These Are America's Most Creative Cities

Tyler Durden's picture

Much has been written about the role of the creative economy as a key indicator of economic health. As Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley writes, the “rise of the creative class” and “creative clusters” are concepts that inform the larger conversation on cities as the economic drivers of regions. As a result, everyone from academics to governments are increasingly looking for ways to measure the scope and size of the creative economy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the creative economy accounts for 4.2% of the GDP and is valued at $704 billion. It’s also a segment of the economy that’s still growing. For example, art director and graphic design jobs are growing across the country at rates of 9% and 13%, respectively.

While there is no consensus on where to draw the line on what jobs or sectors are “creative”, we do know that cities are the primary places where measurable creative activities take place.

Today’s infographic from measures the number of creative jobs, creative schools, performing arts companies, and motion picture and video companies, to create the Creative City Index. While not comprehensive, it is an interesting snapshot of the creative economy of the country.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


Perhaps surprisingly to some, St. Louis ranked highly in multiple categories, including education, with a high number of creative schools per capita. St. Louis also has a healthy motion picture and video editing sector.

As housing in larger cities continues to rise out of reach for many artists and creative professionals, smaller creative hubs like St. Louis and Minneapolis could benefit from an influx of people seeking a more affordable lifestyle.


New York ranked as not only America’s top creative city, but the world’s top creative hub according to a report by UNESCO and EY. As the chart below demonstrates, the creative sector is the fastest-growing segment of NYC’s economy, outpacing many traditional economic drivers.

Not surprisingly, New York City dominates in specific creative categories. For example, 28% of the nation’s fashion designers reside in the five boroughs.

As it turns out, creative economies in larger cities benefit immensely from specialization. In the visualization below, orange dots represent creative jobs in sectors more unique to that metro area. The yellow dots represent more common creative jobs. Essentially, Boston’s creative jobs are tied to industries that are unique to that region, while a city like Las Vegas (which ranked low in the index) offers creative jobs that are less specialized.

The pathway to a robust creative economy requires creative jobs to grow alongside other specialized non-creative industries. This is a major reason cities with a strong technology industry presence also tended to rank well on the Creative City Index.

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VWAndy's picture

 We do stupid and crazy well too!

Normalcy Bias's picture

These "stats" are obviously bogus just considering the massive volume of porn coming out of the Miami area, and the sheer amount of BULLSHIT created in the D.C. area.


Laowei Gweilo's picture

well the liberal art or comp sci cucks in San Fran and New York have a lot in common with the Tampa variety of film stars

they all know how to take D

wee-weed up's picture



Hmmm... I want to see the tax-rate & crime-rate charts of these "creative cities"...

Compared to other so-called "less creative cities"

If only the very rich can live comfortably & avoid cime in these cities...

Then this is misleading and there is no free lunch!

Stuck on Zero's picture

Creative, to me, means the number of patents issued. Art means a cross dumped in a can of urine.

political_proxy's picture

Relax. These are in a political context: the mad mad moonbats are creative indeed.

The Wizard's picture

The term "creative" is a relative term. Creating what?

BS requires creative skill.

HelluvaEngineer's picture

Seriously.  What a waste of infographics.

milking institute's picture

No shit,i would like the 10 minutes of my life back reading this garbage. Portland is the most Hipster infested city! Wow,congratulations for having the highest percentage of completely useless people in the country....

JRobby's picture

Portland - where young people go to retire.

land_of_the_few's picture

So essentially the report is saying 96% of the economy is not in this sector. How many people are employed in this 4%, and what would happen if 100% of employed people would get "creative sector" wages, presumably by getting a lobotomy first .... and somehow finding lots of countries overseas to be the customers instead of the previous 96% of the economy...

Okienomics's picture

Hmmm.  My brother works in the "creative" industries and does pretty well. Ever buy a video game or watch a movie?  Look at the list of credits for either - that's a lot of pretty well paying jobs.  

Tejano's picture

No, I never bought a video game. I don't watch moovies. Life's too short, better things to do. How's that for creativity?

These are America's most degenerate cities

SubjectivObject's picture

Whew!  Luckily no creativity going on in the oil/gas/petro/chem engineering sector, at all.

Still; happy to stay off an ignorant list, and off the radar.


Mr 9x19's picture

it is not a waste, they were took from portland.................

nmewn's picture

lol...see, what we'll do is counterfeit extreme amounts of Yellen bucks and dump them onto the floor of the NYC stawk exchange driving up speculation thus the costs of everything from food, housing, clothing & transportation. Then, the ancillary affect of all those remaining unused Yellen bucks will spill speculatively outwards toward other "creative" centers of the country like LA where, they will make already existing comic book super hero characters into movies that only the well-to-do can afford to watch in the theaters, this is called "creative" as well as designing blue jeans in NYC with properly placed holes in the material (this is called "creative avant garde chic") that the regular folks can't afford either.

But we've "created" a new mechanism for the plebes to purchase all our "creativity" at our inflated prices, its called subsidies, grants and tax credits as the mindless dweebs seem to believe they have a preference in purchasing our "creativity" themselves. 

Hey! As an aside, lets "create" a rudimentary graphic showing them where the "creativity centers" and higher prices really are! 

SFopolis's picture

While not fully disagreeing with you (I see a lot of waste and idiots daily in the business) I have to say that for every actor or ad man you see, there are multiple very serious blue collar jobs.  Think about who sets up the stages and makes the props, designs the mechanisms that you see in everything. There are many extremely technical jobs in the creative industry that are easy to overlook.

I've made my business in fabrication, in large part for the film industry (there are many wings of it).  Recently I got a call from the Jet Propulsion Labs out of Houston (?) and they had a very specific problem and needed a solution that had to do with expedience and economy.  I asked them why they called me, how did they get my number?  They said they had a number of meetings and couldn't solve the problem and it was brought to their attention that the motion picture industry solves problems much greater and with more expedience on a daily basis.  They cruched the numbers and called me.  

Most businesses have a wasteful and stupid aspect.  Think Defense industry, auto industry, computer industry, farming.  Easy to bash what we don't fully know.

My 2 bits.

swmnguy's picture

I'm with you.  I live and work in Minneapolis, and I've been in creative industries fueled by corporate spending for 30 years.  I started building scenery for trade shows and corporate meetings and events, moved to scenery and special effects in film and video (mostly TV commercials), and moved into coordination and project management.  Now I've been self-employed for 13 years, managing the technical aspects of fancy corporate meetings and events, which are pretty much rock concerts that only get performed once.

There's a lot of money, brains and work involved.  The biz employs the craziest cross-section of America you'd ever rub elbows with, and it pays well.  I was making an above-median income as an employee in this industry 15 years ago, and have nearly tripled that in self-employment.

Minneapolis is a hotbed because there are more Fortune 500 companies headquartered here per capita than most places.  That led ad agencies to start up here to support their clients, which led to all the industries that support those efforts.  Minnesota is a high-tax, high-services state with excellent education, healthcare and amenities, so it's very attractive to businesses.  We hear talk that the high taxes are chasing businesses to low-tax states but the evidence provided by the state of the Creative Services industry gives that claim the lie.

I think Minneapolis might actually have more film business than shown here, but overall, these are the cities I do work in, for the most part.  This is pretty accurate.  

As a young man I had a brush with corporate meetings and was amazed.  The amount of money corporations spend on themselves is amazing.  The crumbs that fall from that table make us mice fat indeed.  When I saw how Executives demand to be treated, I realized Feudalism had never died but had just morphed.  I knew I could never be an Aristocrat, and when you see them fall you wouldn't want to be one anyway.  Nor do you want to be too closely identified as the creature of one of them.  So I found a way to become a Trusted Procurer to all these neo-Feudal aristocrats, and that's worked out very well for a commoner like me.  I serve all of them, and none of them exclusively, so they all have an interest in my survival and continued ability to be of service to them.

It's a pretty good gig.  Beats the hell out of honest work, which I've done too.

SFopolis's picture

Sounds about like me.  I had a mid-carreer stint in Milwaukee as well.  Again, it's on the list.  


r3phl0x's picture

That's a nice bet, going long CEO narcissism. IME they will spend almost any amount of money to play rockstar for a couple of hours at some self-congratulatory internal event.

A Nanny Moose's picture

St. Louis? Is that creative destruction when all the dindus riot?

swmnguy's picture

You're thinking of one tiny, though hellish, inner-ring suburb.  You're not thinking of the fact St. Louis used to be the second-biggest city in the country, and there is a ton of old money, and old corporate interests, in that town.

So, nobody is talking about "dindus."  They're talking about serious, old corporate money and the Creative industry that springs up to serve that money.  St. Louis is a very active city in that regard.

dlfield's picture

Why isn't Baton Rouge on the movies chart?  Oh, wait...

Mini-Me's picture

Given the Fed's ability to create fiat out of nothing and totally fuck up the economy, I was expecting a higher ranking than 11th.  Maybe they'll move up when they come out with QE4.

grunk's picture

What does the term, "creative" mean?

Example: Is it creative to use a drone to analyze the chemical/nutrional needs of a cornfield, a soybean field?

Or does it need to be a bunch of Millenial web designers who drink craft beer and take Uber to and from work?

Skateboarder's picture

Creative means you're out to change the world bro.

We're on a mission to change the world and disrupt technologies and industries.

*farts*... *sniffs*... *savors*...

ahhh, all in a good day's work.

frontierland's picture

So were the Boomers...   Bro.

milking institute's picture

Of course the second option. especially if you have a beard and multiple nose rings,any tatoo will also immediately identify you as very"creative" and superior to the average working stiff. Having figured out the food stamp program and convince people that your shit is "art" will no doubt put you in the creative class.

SFopolis's picture

It seems to me you've never been around a "creative".  If you had been, you'd quickly realize that the nose-ringers you describe are the bottom of the totem pole in pretty much every industry, creative or not.  Some are brilliant, but most not.  If you're doing all of that, your just a follower anyhow, not very creative.  But... it is a free country, after all.  

frontierland's picture

It's defined by the degree inwhich one can engulf Dildo.

sinbad2's picture

"What does the term, "creative" mean?"

It means you can count it as GDP, to hide the recession/depression.

Dead Indiana Sky's picture

#1 killing machine on the planet?  All of the above.

joego1's picture

Most creative people realize that living in a city retards creativity.  Cities are good at churning out sheeple and that is all.

Grandad Grumps's picture

Arbitrary b/s. Has ZH turned into a wannabe Star magazine?

not dead yet's picture

You have a large segment of the so called "intelligent" people who believe it's creativity in the arts leads to creativity elsewhere. They also believe that the arts teach one how to think. Unfortunately these people run the education industry and why most of your college courses are liberal arts bullshit. Imagine if you could knock out this crap one could sail through college in half the time and half the cost while studying for a real job. When the STEM panic set in a few years ago the response by the industry was to lengthen the school day to add more liberal arts courses. Not too long ago they were pushing the mantra that English majors would head corporations because they know how to communicate. Right. Then they would have to hire someone else to actually run the company, as the English major didn't know squat see Carly Fiorina, and write the teleprompter speech for the CEO.

Anon2017's picture

I didn't think your white trash, neo-Nazi readers would like this article.

Rjh's picture

So this is just a list of the faggiest cities in america?

frontierland's picture

I prefer to be classified as White Supremist...

Why would we like this stupid article about Cities of "Creative" Anti-Whites and their decidedly High Non-White Violent Crime Rates

Jubal Early's picture

These are really the kike kontrol centers and their corresponding population of mind controlled shabbos goyim slaves.   The high correlation with buggery and faggotry is deliberate, but it is a symptom not the cause.  

Ajax_USB_Port_Repair_Service_'s picture

Which cities get the largest Government Arts Grants? See bar charts above.

Yen Cross's picture

      What He said^^^

 I have a flag for 4chan to find.


Don Pancho's picture



I lived all over central NC and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill...

People in Raleigh are idiotic sheeple...

Just sayin'...

Though I didn't read the article cause it is a stupid waste of time...

meditate_vigorously's picture

This is the without a doubt the most assinine retarded article I have ever seen on ZH, and there have been some really bad ones.

"Subjective thing is arbitrarily given metrics and analyzed objectively", should be the headline.

CultiVader's picture

I'm offended by even skimming this dog shit article.

Stan Smith's picture

    As someone who lives here, Its wholly unsurprising that St. Louis is on the list.    A little surprised by the ranking of 7th.    But if they count a lot of that "per capita" its not surprising at all.    St. Louis has an arts scene (not to mention an IT, Finance, Bio Tech, engineering) that is more in common with far bigger cities.    No one in the St. Louis metro area can bitch about nothing to do.    Between sports and the arts of all kinds,   no one has an excuse to claim there's nothing to do.    If anything, its the opposite.   There's multiple higher end theaters here, probably too many, and hurts all 4 or 5 of them.   None of them does gang busters, but all trudge along.   But all seem to keep a fairly full slate of shows.     There's also a ton of smaller venues, from boutique to dive bar and everything in between.    Again, no one can ever bitch about there being nothing to do.

    I'll point out however, that a BIG part of that is there is a chunk (albiet a small one when you see the breakdown) of property tax for folks who live in both the City and the County that goes to the "Museum District".    The St. Louis Zoo consistently jostles with the San Diego Zoo for numbers 1-2 in the country.   The Zoo is completely free admission-wise because of this.   Our Art Museum is as good as you'll see almost anywhere, sans a few of the really famous ones.   The Science Center here is near Smithsonian-esque.   But all of that is so because it has a ton of guaranteed money,  and in general are pretty well run.  

   The complaints about St. Louis arent unfounded.   The City and County are entirely separate entities (for East Coasters, think Baltimore).    This makes a lot of things difficult.   People can ignore it all they want, but it's laughably segregated.   North City, and North County are heavily African-American.   Not all poor mind you,  but the property values and schools there arent nearly as good as the rest of the County.   Think Ferguson.    Most my AA friends move to far better school districts once they get the chance to.   No one can blame them.  

   It's also like a lot of older cities in that it's hallowed out.    The bulk of the population is in the County, and even other surrounding counties at this point.   It creates opportunities for investment for business fairly cheap.    As always, location is everything though.    However dealing with the City government is a fucking nightmare.   Less so now than 10-15 years ago,  but it's still the biggest deterrent to stuff and people moving back into the City.   Im not holding my breath on that improving anymore than marginally however.

Jubal Early's picture

St Louis is a yankee cesspool city inhabited by mind controlled USA!USA!USA zombies who write articles like yours.