Creative Occupations

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Creative Occupations Employment per 1,000 Residents (2021)

Creative Occupations Fuel 2021


Employment in creative occupations in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was below the national average in 2021, at 115.9 jobs per 1,000 residents. The national average was 139.5. Tucson ranked 10th among peer western metropolitan areas. Salt Lake City ranked first with 212.7 jobs per 1,000 residents, while El Paso ranked last with 93.1 jobs per 1,000 residents. Employment per resident in creative occupations increased slightly in Tucson between 2013 and 2021.

Wages per worker in creative occupations for Tucson averaged $79,097 in 2021, which was more than $10,000 below the national average of $90,735. Tucson ranked near the bottom of comparable peer metropolitan areas. Creative workers in San Diego earned the highest wages in 2021 at $102,159.

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 122,650 in 2021, which accounted for 33.6% of total jobs. That was similar to the national share of 32.9%. In Tucson, employment in creative professional occupations was 71,460 in 2021, while the super creative core employed 51,190. That translated into 67.5 creative professional jobs and 48.4 super creative core jobs per 1,000 residents. Tucson lagged behind the nation for both the creative professional and super creative core occupations.  

The average wage earned by workers in creative occupations in Tucson was $79,097 in 2021, well above the all-occupation average wage of $52,990. Average wages in creative professional occupations were $85,678. Within the super creative core, average wages in Tucson were $69,910 in 2021, about $7,000 below the national average of $77,302. In 2021, Tucson super creative core wages ranked 10th among peer western metros tracked on the MAP Dashboard. Data for the metropolitan areas are available on the  Creative Occupations Comparison Page.

What are the key trends?

Tucson's employment in creative occupations increased at a rate of 11.7% between 2013 and 2021. In 2013, Tucson’s growth in creative occupations was negative, meaning a loss in jobs. The U.S. and Arizona growth in creative occupations increased at a much faster pace than in Tucson during the past seven years. 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 2021 for the U.S., Arizona, and Tucson. Wages in the U.S. during this time increased by 55.7%. The state of Arizona and Tucson’s creative occupation wages increased at a similar rate as the nation at 55.8% and 54.1% respectively. However, Tucson’s current creative occupation wage of $79,097 is more than $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.