Author says creative jobs will dominate future workforce

Best-selling author Richard Florida said most university students are preparing for jobs in the creative sector.

Patricia Drey

The Twin Cities metro area is now ranked the seventh most creative area in the country, said Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,” on Tuesday night.

Florida discussed the reasons he believes more people are going into creative jobs and the impact of the trend with University President Bob Bruininks at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

The seventh-place ranking is up from 10th in 2002. A high creativity ranking means a metropolitan area is attractive to the creative class, which includes artists, teachers, lawyers and doctors, Florida said.

Most university students are preparing for jobs in the creative sector, he said.

Florida divides the labor market into service, manufacturing and creative sectors, he said. Since the 1900s, the creative sector has expanded from 5 percent to about one-third of the labor market, Florida said.

Jobs in biotechnology and research fit into Florida’s definition of the creative sector, and the University has been a part of creating many of those area jobs, said Steve Dornfeld, public affairs director for the Metropolitan Council.

Having a research university helped to spawn the medical devices industry in Minnesota and has helped attract people qualified for high-tech jobs, Dornfeld said.

Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs professor Ann Markusen said the University, the strong and diverse cultural community, the alternative health-care community and low cost of living make the Twin Cities an attractive place for actors, musicians, photographers, painters and writers.

Markusen’s research focused on reasons a disproportionate amount of these artists lived in the metropolitan area.

Sociologists would call this creative class the “new middle class,” which includes doctors, lawyers, professional scientists, teachers and writers, said Jeffrey Broadbent, sociology professor and director of the graduate program in East Asian studies.

Increases in this class make sense in societies such as the United States or Europe where people are raised with the idea that freedom of expression is important, Broadbent said.

“People feel, to fulfill themselves in their own lives, they like to express themselves either by founding their own small business or by finding jobs where they can participate, invent and create things,” Broadbent said.

The increase in creative-class jobs could cause hardship for those whose strengths are in other areas, said John Budd, professor of human resources in the Carlson School of Management.

“Creativity jobs by themselves are great for people who have skills and talent to succeed in those jobs,” Budd said. “The question remains: Can everybody have a creative job?”

Florida said that as the economy becomes more creative, more noncreative jobs, such as manufacturing jobs, might be outsourced to other countries, which he said would be a change for the better. Florida also said many jobs that were once considered noncreative, such as some service industry jobs, might become creative.