Richard Florida’s ‘creative class’ is being savaged by the economic mess just as much as others, although they were supposed to be the answer to the future of the US.
It’s not just manufacturing and public sector jobs being empheralized in this slide into the New Depression. Media people, writers, actors, artists, musicians, and other creatives are being put out of work, and moving back in with mom:
Scott Timberg, The creative class is a lie
[…] for those who deal with ideas, culture and creativity at street level — the working- or middle-classes within the creative class — things are less cheery. Book editors, journalists, video store clerks, musicians, novelists without tenure — they’re among the many groups struggling through the dreary combination of economic slump and Internet reset. The creative class is melting, and the story is largely untold.
It’s happening at all levels, small and large. Record shops and independent bookstores close at a steady clip; newspapers and magazines announce new waves of layoffs. Tower Records crashed in 2006, costing 3,000 jobs. This summer’s bankruptcy of Borders Books — almost 700 stores closed, putting roughly 11,000 people out of work — is the most tangible and recent example. One of the last video rental shops in Los Angeles — Rocket Video — just announced that it will close at the end of the month.
On a grand scale, some 260,000 jobs have been lost in traditional publishing since 2007, according to U.S. News and World Report. In newspapers alone, the website Newspaperlayoffs.com has tracked some 40,000 job cuts since 2008.
Some of these employees are young people killing time behind a counter; it’s hard for them, but they will live to fight again. But education, talent and experience — criteria that help define Florida’s creative class, making these supposedly valued workers the equivalent of testosterone injections for cities — does not guarantee that a “knowledge worker” can make a real living these days.
“It’s sort of like job growth in Texas,” says Joe Donnelly, a former deputy editor at L.A. Weekly, laid off in 2008 and now pouring savings and the money he made from a home sale into a literary magazine. “Gov. Perry created thousands of jobs, but they’re all at McDonald’s. Now everyone has a chance to make 15 cents. People are just pecking, hunting, scratching the dirt for freelance work. Living week to week, month to month.”
The answer is complex, but hinges on what makes up a society. We need the manufacturing and engineering of things in our society, too, and having exported a great deal of that to other countries we find a critical spark — and the economics that goes with it — comes from the making of things.
The creative class — at least the largest fraction of it — needs a multi-layered society to support it. Not all of our creatives are making art that appeals to the entire world. For example, some great chefs cook in small restaurants in second-tier cities, not just in the top 100 restaurants in New York, Shanghai, or London. But if people can’t afford to have dinner out, those cooks will be back working at Olive Garden or on a food truck.