Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New England creative economy > US average

But declining as a percentage of local state economies

More people were employed in the creative economy in New England than the national average as of 2002, according to a November 2007 report “The Creative Economy: A New Definition” by the Boston nonprofit advocacy group the New England Foundation for the Arts. But while the national number of creative economy workers compared to total employment grew from 3.47 percent in 1997 to 3.52 percent in 2002, the percentage in New England states declined from 4.15 percent to 3.97 percent.

In 1997, 4.21 percent of Massachusetts workers were employed by the creative economy compared to 4.06 percent in 2002, though the total number of residents employed in the creative economy grew from 130,981 to 132,001. In Rhode Island during the same span, the percentage declined from 6.73 percent to 5.32 percent, and the actual number of creative economy workers declined by nearly 5,000 to 25,453.

“This only makes it more imperative to identify the strengths of the region and build upon them,” the report says. “Cultural enterprise and workforce employment is not only a community asset for the high quality of life it provides, but because steady, lifetime work, is what a sustainable, balanced community needs.”

Based on 2000 U.S. census data, the report says, Massachusetts tops the nation for the number of architects as a percentage of the total workers. It has the second highest percentage of designers, the fourth highest percentage of writers, and fourth highest percentage of “all artistic occupations.” Rhode Island has the highest percentage of photographers and the fifth highest percentage of designers.

“The Creative Economy: A New Definition” also addresses just what the term “creative economy” encompasses, arguing that defining just what it means is key to reliable, consistent analysis of the sector. “Our definition of the creative economy is represented by the ‘cultural core,’” the report says. “It includes occupations and industries that focus on the production and distribution of cultural goods, services and intellectual property. Excluded are products or services that are the result of non-culturally based innovation or technology.”

See the New England Foundation for the Arts’s previous reports here.


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