Creative Occupations

How are we doing?

Creative Occupations Employment per 1,000 Residents (2019)

Employment in creative occupations in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was below the national average in 2019, at 114.5 jobs per 1,000 residents. The national average was 138.3. Tucson ranked 10th among peer western metropolitan areas. Salt Lake City ranked first with 208.1 jobs per 1,000 residents, while El Paso ranked last with 93.9 jobs per 1,000 residents. Employment per resident in creative occupations increased slightly in Tucson between 2013 and 2019.

Wages per worker in creative occupations for Tucson averaged $76,840 in 2019, which was nearly $9,000 below the national average of $85,293. Tucson ranked near the bottom of comparable peer metropolitan areas. Creative workers in San Diego earned the highest wages in 2019, at $94,666.

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 119,620 in 2019, which accounted for 31.8% of total jobs. That was similar to the national share of 30.9%. Overall, Tucson's creative occupations employment translated to 114.5 jobs per 1,000 residents. In Tucson, employment in creative professional occupations was 65,270 in 2019, while the super creative core employed 54,350. That translated into 62.5 creative professional jobs and 52.0 super creative core jobs per 1,000 residents. Tucson lagged behind the nation for both the creative professional and super creative core occupations.  

Average wages earned by workers in creative occupations in Tucson was $76,804 in 2019, well above the all-occupation average wage of $49,110. Average wages in creative professional occupations were $85,683. Within the super creative core, average wages in Tucson were $66,141 in 2019, about $6,000 below the national average of $72,130. In 2019, Tucson super creative core wages ranked seventh among peer western metros tracked on the MAP Dashboard. Data for the metropolitan areas is available on the  Creative Occupations Comparison Page.

What are the key trends?

Tucson's employment growth in creative occupations has declined overall during the past decade, falling from 13.3% between 2003 and 2008 to -1.9% between 2008 and 2013, and then increasing to a growth rate of 8.9% between 2013 and 2019. The U.S. and Arizona growth rates in creative occupations more than tripled during the past six years. Tucson's employment growth in creative occupations kept pace with the U.S. between 2013 and 2019, increasing by 10.8 percentage points. Growth rates for the super creative core and creative professionals are available on the Creative Occupations Comparison Page.  

Creative occupation wages increased between 2003 and 2019 for the U.S., Arizona, and Tucson. Wages in the U.S. during this time increased by 46.4%. The state of Arizona and Tucson’s creative occupation wages increased at a slightly faster rate than the rate at 47.6% and 49.6% respectively. However, Tucson’s current creative occupation wage of $76,804 is more than $8,000 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.