Creative Occupations

How are we doing?

Creative Occupations Employment per 1,000 Residents

Employment in creative occupations in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was below the national average in 2016, at 108.7 jobs per 1,000 residents. The national average was 130.4. Further, Tucson ranked 10th out of the 12 western metropolitan areas. Salt Lake City ranked first with 182.6 jobs per 1,000 residents, while El Paso ranked last with 84.3 jobs per 1,000 residents. Employment per resident in creative occupations decreased slightly in Tucson between 2011 and 2016.

Wages per worker in creative occupations for Tucson averaged $70,869 in 2016, which was 12.2% below the national average of $80,686. Tucson ranked 11th out of the 12 metropolitan areas. Creative workers in San Diego earned the highest wages in 2016, at $88,944, while workers in El Paso earned the least, at $63,480.

Why is it important?

Workers in creative occupations are engaged in the creation of new ideas, technologies, and expressions. Thus, they are an important part of the innovative process driving local growth. The creative class, as defined by Richard Florida, includes both the super creative core and creative professionals. The super creative core is composed of computer and mathematical occupations; architecture and engineering occupations; life, physical, and social science occupations; education, training and library occupations; and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Creative professionals include management occupations; business and financial operations occupations; legal occupations; and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations.

How do we compare?

Employment in creative occupations in Tucson hit 110,150 in 2016, which accounted for 30.7% of total jobs. That was similar to the national share of 30.0%. In Tucson, the super creative core employed 50,170 in 2016, while employment in creative professional occupations was 59,980. That translated into 49.5 super creative core jobs and 59.2 creative professional jobs per 1,000 residents. Tucson lagged behind the nation for both the super creative core and creative professional occupations.  

Average wages earned by workers in creative occupations in Tucson was $70,869 in 2016, well above the all-occupation average wage of $44,560. Average wages in the super creative core were $62,312 and those in creative professional occupations earned $78,026.

Within the super creative core, average wages in Tucson were $62,312 in 2016, 8.0% below the national average of $67,701. In 2016, Tucson wages ranked 10th out of the 12 western metros tracked on the MAP Dashboard. Data for the metropolitan areas is available on the Creative Occupations Comparison Page.

In 2015, the wage for creative occupations in Tucson was $67,356. This ranked Tucson 11th among peer western metropolitan areas. Tucson’s cost of living was 3.0% below the national average. After adjusting for the cost of living, creative occupation wages in Tucson increased slightly to $69,439. However, this increase was not enough to offset the higher wages and relatively low cost of living found throughout the peer western metropolitan areas.   

Creative Occupations Avg. Weighted Wage Adjusted by Cost of Living

What are the key trends?

Employment growth in creative occupations in Tucson has declined during the past decade, falling from 17.0% between 2001 and 2006 to 0.6% between 2011 and 2016. The U.S. growth rate in creative occupations more than doubled during the past five years, increasing from just below 5.0% to 11.4%. The employment growth in creative occupations for Arizona has remained steady near 10.0%. The reduction in growth in Tucson’s creative occupations can be attributed to declines in employment in the super creative core, especially architecture and engineering occupations. Growth rates for the super creative core and creative professionals are available on the Creative Occupations Comparison Page.  

Creative occupation wages have increased between 2001 and 2016 for the U.S., Arizona, and Tucson. Wages in the U.S. during this time increased by 51.2%, while the state of Arizona and Tucson’s creative occupation wages increased by 45.4% and 50.8% respectively. Tucson’s current creative occupation wage of $70,869 is nearly $10,000 less than the nation.

How is it measured?

After reviewing several definitions of creative occupations, the MAP team decided to follow the widely accepted definition given by Richard Florida in his book “The Rise of the Creative Class”. The creative class, or creative occupations as referred to on the MAP, is broken down into two sub-groups: the super creative core and creative professionals. The occupations are defined by the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system, a federal statistical standard used by federal agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. The list of creative occupations (below) are the names given by the SOC. To view a detailed breakdown and definition of each occupation visit the SOC on the Bureau of Labor Statistics webpage.

Creative Occupations (two sub-groups)

Super Creative Core
Computer and mathematical occupations
Architecture and engineering occupations
Life, physical, and social science occupations
Education, training, and library occupations
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations
Creative Professionals
Management occupations
Business and financial operations occupations
Legal occupations
Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

The detailed employment and wage data come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects survey data on wages by occupation and industry. The OES data include detailed employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupations and industries. Occupational wages are measured before taxes and do not include fringe benefits. The cost of living adjusted data comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities (RPPs). The RPPs are indexes that allow the comparison of prices across regions.