News

New data show Berkeley is a ‘creative class mecca’

Caption goes here.

Richard Florida’s map looks at the geography of class: purple census tracts are primarily creative class and red are primarily service class. None of the Berkeley tracts are primarily working class (blue). Only six of the census tracts in Berkeley have a creative class minority. An interactive version of the map is embedded below. Source: Atlantic Cities

Berkeley is a city full of intelligent, creative people, it seems.

Richard Florida, famous for his notion of the ‘creative class,’ has been dissecting class divides in U.S. metropolitan areas on The Atlantic Cities site, which he edits. Florida, and his colleague Sara Johnson, use data from the American Community Survey to look at the geography of class — split into creative, service and working class. The recent post on San Francisco also provides data on the broader metropolitan area, and it’s possible to zoom in on Berkeley.

All but six census tracts in Berkeley are primarily creative class, and even in those that are primarily service class, the lowest concentration of creative class residents is 35% — in South Berkeley. According to Florida’s map, the second and fourth highest creative class concentrations in the San Francisco metropolitan area are two of the tracts in the Berkeley hills, both of which have over 80% creative class. 

“Berkeley is a creative class mecca, showing that the great universities are the true hubs of the knowledge economy,” Florida explained to Berkeleyside. “Its high and rising housing prices reflect this. That said, the Bay Area, which is also well on its way to becoming predominantly creative class, is beset by worsening class divides as lower wage service and factory workers do not earn enough to keep up with rising housing prices and costs of living.”

Florida is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and Global Research Professor at New York University. He popularized his research in the influential 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class, which posited that areas with high concentrations of ‘creative class’ workers showed stronger economic growth.

The creative class includes people who work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture media and entertainment, law and healthcare professions. According to Florida’s analysis, 39.4% of the San Francisco metropolitan area’s workers are creative class (compared to a national average of 32.6%), with average wages and salaries of $91,361, nearly 30% above the national creative class average.

The service class includes low-wage, low-skill workers who work in routine service jobs such as food service and preparation, retail sales, and clerical and administrative positions. They comprise 44.1% of the metropolitan area’s workers, although the Berkeley percentage is much lower. The working class is employed in factory jobs as well as transportation and construction. They make up only 16.5% of the metropolitan area’s workers, compared to the national average of 20.5%. Only two Berkeley census tracts have more than 20% working class residents, according to the data.

Using the interactive version of the map, embedded below, you can find the class breakdowns for each of the census tracts in Berkeley, or zoom out to look at the entire metropolitan area. (Refresh the page if the map doesn’t show.)

Do you appreciate hearing about the news in your community through Berkeleyside’s work? If so, please consider becoming a supporter of Berkeleyside. Become part of the conversation. Help a local news site thrive.

Print Friendly
Tagged ,
  • Bill N

    Well I would question how much “law” is a part of the creative class (and I’m happy I didn’t see finance) but in general this is pretty interesting. The question is how does one harness this for the good of our city and region and all of the people who live there.

  • Chris J

    Not sure about this; it all seems a bit flaky to me. While I believe that there are a log of creative folks here in Berkeley, the definition is tough to provide. If its entrepreneurialism, well–I qualified while I had my own business, but now I guess I’m considered a simple wage slave working a retail gig, baking two hours a week, and drawing unpublished comics and sketches in my spare time?

  • Charles_Siegel

    “Creative Class” is a term invented by Richard Florida, who defines it as:
    “people who work in science and technology,
    business and management, arts, culture media and entertainment, law and
    healthcare professions.”

    Lots of these people are not really creative, and lots of creative people don’t work in these fields, so you are right that the term “creative class” is kind of flaky.

    But Florida has interesting ideas about what people in these professions are interested in, about how they affect the prosperity of cities, and about how cities can attract them.

  • guest

    By definition, creativity is useless unless it creates something useful. Otherwise, it’s a polite term used to describe underachievers.

  • guest