3 Key Numbers in the Creative Economy 30-50-70

Happy New Year!

I am relaunching my blog, now with a tighter focus. My new speaking, facilitation and workshop business, gives me a clear purpose to blog. I plan to share my expertise in economic development and the Creative Economy – Rural, Small Town & City in my blogs. So here goes, here’s my first new piece of  content in quite some time. I would really appreciate feedback so please contact me via the various options below.

3 Key Numbers in the Creative Economy
There are 3 very important numbers related to the Creative Economy, this blog will highlight them and outline why these numbers matter. Many thanks to the Martin Prosperity Institute for informing this blog.

Creative Occupations * make up 30% of the labour force

In the U.S. approximately 1/3 of the labour force is employed in the Creative Economy – these are people who are paid to think, people employed in creative occupations. In Ontario the number is even higher at 35%.

Creative Workers make 50% of all wages earned
The Creative Class earns approximately 50% of overall income in the economy in the U.S. In Ontario a creative worker  makes on average $58,000 per year compared to a blue collar worker who makes about $38,000 per year. Creative Occupations on average pay quite well.

Creative Occupations represent 70% of disposable income
Here is the kicker they represent 70% of the disposable income in the economy! That’s a lot of money that gets spent – much of it locally.  Community builders want to make sure they have their fair share of creative workers in their community spending that kind of money locally.

Creative Occupations are expected to grow by 40%
An important fourth number to be aware of is that the Creative Class is expected to grow by 40% from 2006-2016. In the previous decade it grew by 30%.

30-50-70 Creative Class  Implications
So what are the implications? For those who are responsible for economic and community development the key question to ask is… are you nurturing an environment from which the Creative Class are staying in and moving to your community and participating in your economy?

My next blog will discuss approaches to making sure communities maintain and grow their share of the creative class.

Brief Bio
Dan pioneered the practice of Creative Rural Economy, Economic Development in Prince Edward County, Ontario for 10 years until 2011. Now he is the President and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster where his role has expanded to include both urban and rural creative economy work. Dan also speaks regularly to groups, organizations and conferences in order to help them grow their economies.

Want to Hear More?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others on developing Creative Economies – Rural, Small Town & City. To book me for  speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops and more book here or email me.

If you are interested in my blogs you can receive them automatically by subscribing here.

* Chart courtesy of Canada’s Creative Corridor


  1. Carol Coletta

    What are you counting as part of the creative economy?

  2. Andre Rodenburg

    Why would communities care so much for residents with ‘disposable’ income, that can be spent on anything anywhere, say on holidays, imported luxuries, or invested elsewhere? Rent/mortgage, insurance, etc. will be fixed, money spent on food and other groceries will go mainly to local business.

    • cre80300

      Good Question Andre. Not all creative occupations pay well, some creative class make average to below average workers, like “starving” artists.

      Disposable income is like most things it will be spent in concentric circles. There will be a significant amount of it spent locally on many things from retail purchases, farmers markets and local art to services ranging from home maintenance, legal and accounting services and healthcare for example.

      While some will be spent outside a community as you have pointed out much will stay local. I think that is positive for any community. Better than not having that income in one’s community in the first place.

  3. Elsie

    Hi Dan,
    Was researching Social Media bits for a possible new biz and came across some good studies completed/funded by Arts Council, Trillium, TEDCO. Although they started out trying to figure out how to better service artists ie studio space, etc. they actually uncovered the same need for the creative types ie individual entrepreneurs in the hi tech space. As a result they, TEDCO ++ are planning on building a space where the Toronto Creative and Cultural sector can come together and work and collaborate. They state the following::
    -Serving as a hub and one stop shop for creative sector freelancers and startups by offering access to resources and facilitating peer-to-peer and crosssector networking
    -Showcasing and connecting growing businesses, their creative products, and ideas to new markets
    -Maximizing opportunities for collaboration within and between creative sectors to support practice innovation

    I love this model, is very forward thinking and will provide much more than a typical incubator.
    They also identified that there are numerous gov’t funded agencies that provide assistance/help to startups/small businesses but it is difficult to find them and access them.
    Anyway given what you have done in PEC and are trying to do again, thought to share..Here is the link..http://www.slideshare.net/kroos5/centre-for-creative-sector-entrepreneurship-report

  4. Michael Vanderherberg

    How we integrate the creative economy into Peterborough’s manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, even government, this will determine our success in the region. There is a spirit of collaboration in Peterborough right now among the creative class. If we could harness this connectivity, willingness to partner, and entrepreneurial drive, and connect it to established forms of economic development (high-tech manufacturing for example), I think that Peterborough will do quite well.

    We need more good jobs, absolutely. But those high-paying creative jobs don’t just magically appear in Peterborough or any other city. By laying the framework and encouraging the creative class to get together and talk, I think we’re moving in the right direction. It would be helpful, as successes happen, to document them and publish them as examples of ‘economic development of the creative class’ or something to that effect.

    Thanks for putting this up Dan. I have never been so excited about local economic development as I am now and that speaks to your willingness to meet ‘little’ people in the community.

    • cre80300

      A very thoughtful comment Micheal, lots to be enthused about. The common mis-perception is that the Creative Economy is some “other” or silo’d economy. In fact it is the opposite. Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute refers to the creative economy as “industry agnostic”, meaning creative workers – by definition the creative economy, work in all sectors of the economy.

      I am starting to describe the creative economy as horizontal, in that it cuts across all sectors or verticals that we typically think of when describing an economy.

      More to come, I have a blog topic brewing to try and address this issue in greater detail.

  5. Bruce Stonehouse

    Hello Dan:
    Worthwhile topic for discussion. I arrived in Peterborough this past fall and immediately
    noted the many culture industries and creative energy. Like Elsie mentioned there is an opportunity here to explore the link with business. The model referenced has merit and needs to be followed up.
    On a related topic I read with great interest the draft Sustainability Plan for Peterborough. More specifically the Theme of Cultural Assets which spells out forming a Heritage Committee no doubt critical. However the substance remains silent in terms of forming a Public Art Committee. The latter seems imperative for a creative community’s posture.
    Looking forward to your insights, please.

    • cre80300

      Thanks Bruce,

      Certainly Heritage, Public Art and other related committee’s have value and I certainly think if the city were to proceed that would be great. My thoughts are that in a vibrant creative economy, various community members move forward regardless, partner where it makes sense and proceed on their own as they see fit.

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