Creative Occupations

How are we doing?

Creative Occupations Employment per 1,000 Residents (2018)

Employment in creative occupations in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was below the national average in 2018, at 111.2 jobs per 1,000 residents. The national average was 134.4. Further, Tucson ranked 10th among peer western metropolitan areas. Salt Lake City ranked first with 198.3 jobs per 1,000 residents, while Las Vegas ranked last with 95.6 jobs per 1,000 residents. Employment per resident in creative occupations increased slightly in Tucson between 2013 and 2018.

Wages per worker in creative occupations for Tucson averaged $75,951 in 2018, which was nearly $8,000 below the national average of $83,697. Tucson ranked last compared to peer metropolitan areas. Creative workers in San Diego earned the highest wages in 2018, at $92,493.

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 115,020 in 2018, which accounted for 31.1% of total jobs. That was similar to the national share of 30.4%. In Tucson, employment in creative professional occupations was 63,520 in 2018, while the super creative core employed 51,500. That translated into 61.4 creative professional jobs and 49.8 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 $75,951 in 2018, well above the all-occupation average wage of $47,610. Average wages in creative professional occupations were $82,989. Within the super creative core, average wages in Tucson were $67,271 in 2018, about $3,000 below the national average of $70,456. In 2018, 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 4.8% between 2013 and 2018. The U.S. growth rate in creative occupations more than doubled during the past five years, increasing from 4.3% to 11.6%. The employment growth in creative occupations for Arizona tripled between 2013 and 2018, increasing from 5.1% to 15.3%. Tucson's employment growth in creative occupations kept pace with the U.S. between 2013 and 2018, increasing by 6.7 percentage points. 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 2003 and 2018 for the U.S., Arizona, and Tucson. Wages in the U.S. during this time increased by 43.6%, while the state of Arizona and Tucson’s creative occupation wages increased by 45.0% and 48.0% respectively. Tucson’s current creative occupation wage of $75,951 is nearly $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.