Lost In The Cracks:The American Creative Class

By Dave DeCastris
July 25, 2021

The United States Creative Class Workforce is comprised of 56 million laborers and growing each year.  Increasing from 44 million members in 2005— a 27.2% growth. More than doubling the overall U.S. workforce growth rate (13.6%) between 2005 to 2017 [1].

“The class composed of knowledge workers, techies, and cultural creatives is a key force in the economic growth of U.S. cities. More than 56 million workers are members of America’s creative class, or above 35 percent of the workforce.” Richard Florida [2],

There is no better source for defining the Creative Class than Richard Florida; researcher, journalist, columnist author, professor, and founder of the Creative Class Group [3] .  Florida leads an advisory firm for companies, regions, communities and governments; investing decades worth of time, research and efforts to define and document the rise of America’s majority socioeconomic class.  He’s the author of many essential books including “The Rise Of The Creative Class,” “Who’s Your City?:  How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life,” and “The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It.

Our growing impact across diverse industries like science, technology, engineering, business, finance, management, law, health care, education, arts, culture, media, and entertainment has established itself as the backbone to America’s economy during the last 30 years.  Creative Class occupations [4] are as vast as the industries mentioned in the last sentence.  A workforce of scientists, architects, engineers, designers, developers, directors, producers, gamers, artists, I.T and more.

Understanding who we are, and how important these skilled professionals and peers are to the country’s cultural and economic health, needs attention.  It starts with having conversations amongst trusted friends and family.

A conversation arose with one of my lifelong best friends about current career paths, the pros and cons.  Eric’s in Denver, me in Rockford (IL). Two drastically different regions; one is economically healthy and progressive with opportunities, and the other is a post-industrial midwest wasteland.  Despite the population variable, Rockford is an hour away from Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee in every direction— yet can never recover from decades of manufacturing industry job loss.  A tale of two Americas for myself and Eric.

Eric with my son, Otis; his first trip to Denver.

Eric experienced the post-grad Creative Class perils of copywriting for B2B advertising and marketing agencies nearly 20 years ago.  He made an immediate career change while Journalism, Research, and Copywriting occupations began merging; in most sectors, those roles and responsibilities are dumped off on directors, designers and developers, and morphed into glorified mixed-multimedia content production roles.  No extra pay incentives, note.  Technology’s advances and effects on media consumption and digital distribution continue to influence all industries, communities and people, requiring each to adapt-and-change in motion. 

Eric and his family exiled Illinois for Colorado to find new opportunities.  He returned to school to earn another degree in education while helping raise two boys with his wife, a NICU nurse carrying the financial weight and health benefits.  He still worked (while studying) and was promoted into managerial roles at blue chip brand retail companies (Starbucks and Whole Foods) to contribute towards their family’s needs.  Leaving the Creative Class path opened up new opportunities.

He, like his wife and many of us, defines the best of the American Dream experiment.  Work ethic, persistence—and the most valuable factor which people sacrifice these previous key efforts to—location.  Location is everything in work and life.

The temporary Denver based occupations Eric took on while studying anew provided minor, valuable incentives—stock options—unlike anything offered before during his stint as a Creative Class member; a Copywriter in the gutter of the Northern Illinois advertising and marketing industry.  What he discovered was/still is unlike anything most of my Creative Class workforce peers have ever been offered for our time and energy.  Socioeconomic factors often provides solutions to achieve a respectful, secure, healthier future.  Location is everything—but so are everyone’s situations.  Single, married, family or not, we’re all in it together.  Some Creative Class professionals have partners to lean on who provide benefits and health insurance, but most don’t.

I, myself, tried going back to school as well to start a new career path as a R.N, yes— a complete 180° change that could uproot me from a locational, socioeconomic effect I can’t seem to escape from.  I don’t see it changing, because you can’t change the behaviors of an entire region’s poor-to-inadequate-to-selfish-to-privileged and self-entitled leadership skills.   Changing location or discovering a remote opportunity that helps me care for my family are the only solutions I can entertain if I stay in advertising and marketing.  The motivation and goals were clearly strong to set forth on a career change path to be a Nurse.  However:  Life logistics, family, region, and financial weight prevents me.  My wife can’t carry us, and I can’t afford to take out more student loans to pile on to the first set.  I still wish I could go back to school to establish a secure, sustainable path that offers a sliver of hope with providing guaranteed benefits to my family.  Seems like a simple goal, right?  Not so simple for many Creative Class pros.  

I’ve been dying to help people in need of genuine care and help, versus helping businesses in need of revenue growth, branding, and superficial goals.  There’s no genuine, honest ROI to assess at this phase of my career for me.  I first saw the career change signs about 10 years ago, and began confiding in a few friends who work in healthcare as doctors and nurses for ideas.  My age and energy was a consistent barrier to consider; and then 6 years ago, having a child became another factor to consider.  Financially, I can’t go back to school full-time because I need to work a full-time job.  Being a Creative Class lifer is the reality I have no choice but to accept until factors change that will allow me to uproot my family.

Changing those types of factors creates new opportunities—like being offered benefits.  I know not what a benefits package is after 25 years, having only been offered such twice:  The last time being 23 years ago.  Imagine how dumbfounded I feel if you’re thinking, “What the f**k?!”  Is the America we’re investing in making great again that great for anyone who hasn’t inherited wealth and privilege?  

From my experience and that of many Creative Class pros, benefits are talked about and dangled like a carrot on a string in front of your face to make bartering deals with.  Our health, and that of our families, shouldn’t be four-leaf job clovers to search and beg for.

I’m in a Creative Class partnership with my wife and son; the latter born early and with specialized needs, therapies, ongoing surgeries, a million dollar baby—and conquering science I’ll add!   Neither one of us holds an occupation with an employer that provides benefits for the other or our son.  Thankfully, the Affordable Healthcare Act (that which many privileged bozos and bimbos are against) has rescued my wife and son more-so than any private insurance plan can.  It helps my family survive— and we do our part to work more than we should at our age to get by.  I still take on side work to make ends meet, as does my wife.  We’re both college educated on top of it, but what’s a  BAchelor’s degree worth in today’s world?  Nothing, at least not in America— argue me otherwise.

There’s a specific opinion I’ve heard and read from citizens in many directions that goes like this:  “If your job doesn’t provide benefits— get a job that does.  That’s on you.”  People who tend to uphold and preach post-WW2-1950s Suburbia opinions are not people who deserve a job with benefits in the modern era.  Sadly, they’re often the individuals in charge of businesses and hiring as the result of inheritance or nepotism.  Privilege and ignorance are at the core for representing America’s longest uncured pandemic.   A nation sick on its own pride.

Go ahead and imagine the healthcare costs of our son’s surgeries (three to date, with more to come for cleft lip and palate procedures), weekly therapies since birth, and the incredible specialty care he receives from the University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital.  We can’t afford those costs, and neither can most employers cover those costs for their employees.

I seriously doubt that any of the rich American hillbillies who preach, “You don’t have health insurance?  Get a job that do!” would be able to cover the debts either.  American morons with a right to vote still, scary.  When one offers the words, “it takes a village” to care for a child (and ourselves), I agree— it’s true and extremely humbling.  My family is lucky to have that village because many people don’t.  Location is everything.

This is the America that many live and work in to make ends meet.  Every healthy day that passes for myself and loved ones, I cherish it while anxiously awaiting the inevitable:  Age and declining health without anything extra put aside to protect my family from unavoidable healthcare costs.

56 million Creative Class people in my workforce are facing the same anxieties.  I’ve been conditioned to accept that it’s the new American norm, and a four decades old standard for my region.  We’re already conditioned to age and fail without pondering every affordable way to relocate while losing our child’s village.  A way of life and work for many Creative Class professionals in similar sized post-industrial American cities.

Who is the Creative Class?

Start with the easiest answer of many, me.  I’m a proud member of the Creative Class— an Executive Creative Director and then some.  The path I’m on is approaching three decades of experiences, letdowns and successes, good and bad lessons aligned with poor business ethics practiced by many, and most importantly, wonderful relationships and friendships that arose from collaborations.

That generalized answer is always followed by, What’s an Executive Creative Director— what do you do?  ECDs have many responsibilities— on most days in my current occupation, I’m the internal marketing department sans heads and hands-on help.  Ponder the magnitude of all of the other Creative Class roles I’m solely managing and successfully pretending to be out of survival.

“The executive creative director [5] is the mind behind a company’s public identity throughout all types of media, including print and web presence. Executive creative directors work with stakeholders and other executive-level management to determine how the company should be represented to the public. As their title implies, executive creative directors are incredibly creative and think of innovative new design strategies that specific teams then work to make happen. This is an executive position that requires years of experience in management and creative departments. Executive creative directors report to company owners and stakeholders.”

My journey began with being an artist by birth—every media you can think of; music, painting, drawing, writing, design, photography, developing, coding—everything.  Formally earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Design many moons ago from Bradley University (Peoria, IL).  I still practice my craft when not juggling job and family responsibilities. 

The “and then some” is where misnomers and labor abuse occurs with Creative Class job titles.  It oft-invites a conversation to expound upon when posed the uncomfortable follow-up of, “But what do you ACTUALLY do for a living?”  That’s an indication of everything you’ve already answered to about your career being misunderstood— because I told you what I do:  That’s my work, my life— and my life’s work.

I can tell you exactly what I have trained to do; what I’ve taken out student loans for, and show you a body of work; then I’ll explain it; and to add insult to injuries and debts invested in, I’ll provide you the names of collaborators and references with testimonials who speak on behalf of me and repeat myself until blue in the face.  Still after 25 years, I encounter more people who ask the same questions but don’t listen; then, to ask the same question again and again while affixing inaccurate career labels to my name upon future encounters.

If it wasn’t funny to me it would be offensive to all Creative Directors, but I’m not like most Creative Directors.  I’m actually creative when away from business responsibilities… Fighting words.  Funny and offensive— and no one listens or retains.  Location is everything, again, but intelligence and respect goes a long way, too.

There’s no easy answer to the question, “Who is the Creative Class?”,  because society hasn’t been informed to identify a unified Creative Class workforce yet. 

Paraphrasing my best friend, Eric: 

You’re all scattered, and far from trusting in one another,” because each of us is expected to be on occupational standby with absorbing the other person’s skill set at the slice of a budget.

Eric also asked (after I posed the 56 million [1] workforce fact to him), Who is the Creative Class defined by?”

  • I explained—referencing Richard Florida’s research [1, 2, 3].
  • I proposed reasons for identifying and unifying who we are in the same way that we recognize and respect teachers, nurses, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other occupational categories that are identifiable because of social conditioning.

Talking to a loyal peer left me right back where I’ve struggled to exist for the last 25 years:  People—despite the rise of a digitally-fueled culture—don’t know who the Creative Class is.

We are a global engine driving cultural awareness and progress for every industry, business, region and community; yet we work and live without unification and identification.  Without either, we will never earn understanding and respect.

Eric offered final feedback about why the American Creative Class workforce is not identifiable after 30 plus years of growth to become the majority workforce population:

“There are many “hats” within your line of work; and with millions of people already scattered around—already misidentified, suspicious-and-pissed off, and in best case scenarios being burned out but employed—it will be extra hard to unify your workforce. Teachers, trades, medical—everyone knows where to find them, and who they are.  When there are issues affecting all of these known identities, they band up and fight for change.  Your workforce’s people fall between the cracks, becoming a challenge for thinking big picture unification. The Creative Class is not easily categorized (like the other groups mentioned)—good luck unifying a community that isn’t easily categorized.”

His input caused me to look inwards on my experiences and interactions with family and friends, and how they (may, or don’t) recognize who the Creative Class is.

It always begins with, again, “What do you do for a living?”

A general misunderstanding all of the possible answers to that specific question is the majority result-reaction by those who propose the question to Creative Class professionals.  Listening, learning—and retaining accurate details shared—aren’t humanity’s stronger skill sets in the modern digital age.  We’re all being hit with fast-food-like information every second; be it in the car, on our phones, this method (right here in front of you), or face to face. 

It takes work and genuine interest to listen and retain.  Those inadequacies show up later on when listening and retaining fails the person who asks the same questions more than once, especially, “What do you do for a living?

I’m pondering the amount of times I’ve been inaccurately introduced to friends and family with misnomers that require an estranged sense of midwest humor in return.  I’ve heard it all:

  • Marketing Guy, Business Stuff, Computer Stuff, Graphic Design stuff, Web Guy, the I.T. Guy… Many more. 

“Stuff” roles are cute— but still funny.  Albeit offensive when I’m not in the mood to correct ignorance.

I speak on behalf of all Executive Creative Directors who understand the multifaceted responsibilities of the role itself:  We value and need the support of Information Technology (I.T.) Creative Class workforce professionals; but we are not an I.T. services solution.  I.T. professionals are Creative Class workforce peers who need respect and unification also.

Misnomers are also practiced by businesses and community leaders who don’t understand how to identify the Creative Class (but they do; it’s an act— they’re cheap).  They’re openly choosing to practice cost-effective (lazy and cheap) measures to fulfill creative, marketing, and IT service needs by intentionally combining job titles and responsibilities into one underpaid reality that accommodates their strategies.  Did I mention yet how lazy and cheap most business and community leaders are at addressing problems in need of quality solutions, services, and premium workers?

Imagine a world where Doctors are introduced as the Chefs, and Physician Assistants are introduced as the Waiters.

Do you approach them with expectations of providing you free meals?  How about free blood tests and surgeries to prove that their experience, education, and skill sets are OK for your needs?  That sort of offensive, disrespectful behavior happens to creative professionals every day.   The ignorance often veiled as “spec” work requests.   That doesn’t happen in other workforces, because society is conditioned to identify and respect other workforces.

Why does Creative Class misidentification occur without repair?

  • One reason: Creative Class misidentification occurs because the toolboxes are often computers, laptops, tablets, phones—smart devices—with software loaded, learned, and ready to serve every industry, every company, every employee, every customer.
  • Another reason: Toolboxes are metaphors for stages, studios, agencies, and production sets; especially with Creative Class workforce peers who choose theater, performance art, and commercial audio and video production paths.  Y’all think that a career path like that is cheap to work in while keeping up with technology, hardware and software advancements?  
  • Simplest reason: Society’s not conditioned to identify, understand, and respect who we are in order to assess the cultural value of our workforce.
  • Many reasons to expound upon— 56 million people strong and growing shouldn’t need reasons to understand who we are in order to respect our majority influence on the American population and the world-at-large.

Ponder this with regards to repair:  Why is it OK—and assumed—that every working artist, actor, and aspiring industry professional needs four extra jobs to survive, to still not cover bills, insurances, food and transportation?  

I reserve the right to speak for all artists and Creative Class members when I offer up, “That’s f*cked up.”  Yes, it’s garbage.

Why is that idealism considered normal?  When did it become normal?  Aren’t we a country that proclaims hard work ethic, kindness, and being fair pays off?

[Chew on those common Creative Class 101s in need of reparations.  Feel free to direct message me.  I welcome the debate.]

Misrepresentation is a problem for 56 million plus Creative Class professionals.

It’s also confusing for me, a seasoned Creative Director and artist, to explain what it means to be a Creative Class workforce professional when consulting others.  Misnomers and misidentification are inescapable in my situation because of aforementioned regional variables:

  • Location
  • Lack of Industry and Opportunities
  • Leaders With A Lack of Knowledge and Abundance of Pride
  • Good Ol’ Boy Networking Nepotism

Is the American Dream working at its best, or worst realization where you’re located?  You decide.

I’ve successfully stuck it out for 25 years within the ranks of the advertising and marketing industry—an industry serving all major industries.  A gutter littered with poor business ethics for the Creative Class workforce to tolerate and work through without reparations and progress.

Identification of occupations starts right there/here in the bowels of the marketing and advertising industry.  Way before it seeps into the fabric of our cultural and community mindset; and before it influences every industry under the sun.

The division of egos and one-dimensional roles between marketing, creative, sales, and executive professionals fuels our inability to categorize and identify a majority of the Creative Class workforce.  We’re all working to live in a metaphoric reality:  Eat or be eaten, sink or swim, f**k or get f****d.  Most Creative Class workforce members know too much about getting f****d.

I’ve been mislabeled and inaccurately categorized in ways that I can’t keep track of anymore.  I’d be a wealthy man had I made bets on expectations for failure with a lack of support by peers—and I use “peers” lightly.  I’ve few to call a genuine “peer” that can step in and provide quality help, direction, and work ethic that’s up to a higher standard.  That’s on me for expecting a higher standard in return.  Expecting and assuming hang together as one broken branch on a career tree full of letdowns.  

Expecting and assuming better of peers returns to what my best friend said earlier about unifying the Creative Class:  

“… millions of people already scattered around—already misidentified, suspicious-and-pissed off, and in best case scenarios being burned out but employed.” 

He hit it on the spot.  How can Creative Class unification ever happen as long as we’re all suspicious of each other in order to survive?  How can we unify if individuals like myself perceive peers as broken branches on a tree of letdowns created by expectations and assumptions?  The answers become laughter (if not madness).

Overwhelmingly impoverished regions combined with a lack of industries and occupations—without unification—are factors that many Creative Class workforce members are up against. 

Creative Class opportunities offering financial security, benefits, and educational perks are an extinct labor agreement for most of us.  The remnants of an American Dream.  Those incentives don’t exist for most of us; the lone wolf effect kicks in right before hitting a mid-level career experience for survival.

The lack of benefits alone, however, becomes an intolerable pro/con topic with age and Creative Class experience.  Introduce a family to care for and how can the lone wolf survive without a pack of wolves to support him/her?  

56 million plus Americans are driving the American economy without identification, and in most industries they’re receiving zero support.  Something needs to change and it starts by correcting and informing family and friends; start within the circles—our wolf packs—that we control the narratives of.

Demand respect because we’re carrying the nation’s modern workforce weight [1, 2] at 56 million plus people.

The American Creative Class is the new middle class.  Lost between the cracks with no unification.

Unification of the Creative Class—it’s confusing, yes.  I’m a member of a workforce that possesses zero unification to be identified, let alone respected.

Richard Florida’s work planted seeds for the US government to begin identifying creative professionals from census data dating back to 1990.  Click here to review [4].  It’s a good start, but little has been accomplished with the census since 2010.

For a majority workforce that helped keep America running during the late 2000s great recession, and to assist with rebuilding the economy during and afterwards, it’s odd that little effort is being made to define 56 million plus Americans.  The nation’s largest growing workforce for the last 30 years [1, 2].

A large segment of American Creative Class workers populates the advertising and marketing industry—an industry which affects every industry, business, community, government, and regional economies.

Advertising and marketing professionals understand who the American Creative Class is; most industry leaders don’t. Many differences separate creative and marketing occupations; with each role possessing various responsibilities, skill sets and experience.  Most standard businesses with HR reps and recruiters barely know what they’re seeking in a candidate when it comes to hiring Creative Class occupations to fill.  There’s a good reason for that.

Creative Class members makeup a majority workforce that blindly represents itself to earn most opportunities with online portfolios to showcase—and that’s aside from traditional resumes and CV documents.  Most hiring methods aren’t portfolio-content friendly for results, and a quality candidate’s resume gets lost in the shuffle by keyword-driven ATS software which recruitment professionals use.

Recruiting Creative Class professionals with ATS keyword results to fulfill occupational needs is like being a carpenter who knowingly chooses to hammer a nail into glass that’s sitting atop wood.  Good luck with getting the results you’re seeking.

For a majority modern workforce that created itself to survive, the Creative Class deserves better recruiting methods.  Again, it comes down to identification.

You sitting there reading this:  Imagine being an experienced Creative Class professional trying to survive in a world that relies on amateur methods to be discovered for typically questionable roles that are cleverly worded to combine six roles into one.  Business speak, it’s inept.  There is a better way—innovate and educate new ways to recognize the largest American workforce.

Recognizing who the Creative Class is extends itself within the fabric of our families and friends.  Understanding the occupational roles is, again, the first step.

Teachers will attest to a valuable adage that many parents fail at understanding: “A child’s education begins at home.”  It is not the teacher’s responsibility to teach you, the parent, why this adage matters to the world and humanity’s future at large.  The same thinking should apply to business leaders; go home, research, learn how to recognize Creative Class occupations to increase understanding, identification, and understanding.

Understanding who the Creative Class helps define every industry, city, and community.

The backbone of America’s modern economy has roots in the advertising and marketing industry. What used to be solely associated with big city jobs—NYC, Chicago, LA—is everywhere [2[ because of technology’s advancements in the last 30 years.

Creative Class occupations [6] from the advertising and marketing industry includes:

  • Chief Creative Officer
  • Executive Creative Directors
  • Creative Directors
  • Digital Marketing Director
  • Brand Director
  • Product Marketing Director
  • Art Directors
  • Marketing Directors
  • Brand Strategists
  • Digital Strategists
  • Media Planners/Buyers
  • Public Relation Directors
  • Account Executives/Directors
  • Network Systems Administrators
  • Cloud Architects
  • Website Administrators
  • Email / Mail Server Administrators
  • … Countless Directors, Administrators, and Support Technicians for I.T./Network/Systems/Communication Services with Hardware and Software Support roles for miles!

Don’t forget…

  • Videographers
  • Audio Engineers
  • Photographers
  • Models
  • Actors
  • Composers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Web Developers
  • Web Designers
  • Digital UX / UI / CX Designers and Developers
  • Ecommerce Developers
  • App Developers
  • Content Producers
  • Social Media Coordinators
  • Copywriters
  • Journalists
  • Bloggers (Sorry, Copywriters and Journalists)
  • Illustrators
  • Digital UI/UI/CX (Many extensions of Designers and Developers)
  • SEO Specialists
  • Event Coordinators
  • … Countless Occupations—ALL DIFFERENT

American Creative Class professionals are expected to accept direct, planning, managing, producing, and representing all of the responsibilities between these roles as one job—as if it’s OK and ethical to be expected to conduct such.

It’s happening in every industry, every region, because there are no laws to protect the nation’s largest workforce.  How can there be anything to protect a workforce that hasn’t been universally identified yet, in order to respect and understand these occupational roles?

“We’re a company with a great opportunity for a self-driven, motivated, positive team first player that can… “

See any random Creative Class job opening post for that smoke and mirror request.  It’s hiring code for blah blah blah, do this, do that, skeleton budget, no real team, no help, you figure it out, red flag description, no benefits or maybe a few if you beg like the peasant that they’re misunderstanding you to accept being on their terms.  Offensive.  Start anywhere to understand the American Creative Class roles and notice that they make the U.S. economy hum within every industry.

Take the occupational differences of Creative Directors vs. Marketing Directors vs. Account Executives; each is confused with one another in most industries and companies. 

“Well, tell Jenny she needs to manage all of those responsibilities now that we laid off Carl, Linda, Tom, and Tammie. Give her a 3% salary hike to keep her at bay—that should keep her happy for a year.”  Capitalism and the American Dream at its filthiest worst.

  • These are night-and-day individuals and occupations requiring polarizing skill sets, and wide median salary ranges. One is creative and can provide hands-on leadership, action and ideation with innovation. The other two enjoy golf, and meetings about meetings to plan the next meeting with Jerry and Lisa, Clients representing Company X.
  • Jerry and Lisa—who enjoy the perks of socialized capitalist acts hosted by the Marketing Director and the A.E.—decides who wins Company X‘s marketing budget for the next year.

Each are extremely different occupational animals with different talents.

  • Marketing Directors and Account Executives—they who excel at emails (sometimes, grammar is typically an issue); spending on the company’s dime; and presenting half-sober Powerpoint slides—are necessary because most Creative Directors don’t have extra time, tolerance, social skills, and energy for workday golf meetings and Bloody Marys with Jerry and Lisa followed up by bottomless chips and salsa with pitchers of margaritas at the nearby Chili’s.

Apples, Oranges, and Booze. It’s as simple as that.

  • Yes, this is written with bias in defense of every creative professional who works in an environment where tolerating the oft-childish midday drunk behaviors of Marketing Directors, Sales Reps, and Account Executives is an important, overlooked requirement that should be rewarded the same 10% to 15% compensation per contract fulfilled, but is rarely recognized with more than a “Thanks for the great work, team!”  If that.  Again, it’s offensive.

Most American industries, businesses, certified HR Reps and Recruiters seeking Creative Class occupations and skill sets don’t have a concrete understanding of what they’re in need of hiring for.

Many professionals aren’t taking the time to thoroughly research and self-educate. The “Google it” solution for misinformed inquiring minds doesn’t provide enough educational ammo.  Documentation and experience are key.  Understand, again, that most people haven’t been introduced to what defines the American Creative Class workforce [2] to begin with.

Ask peers, family, and friends about the Creative Class workforce to get a grasp on how little is known about the new middle class from a trusted circle. Mass ignorance exists because American businesses—combined with state and federal leadership—are failing to identify, understand, protect, and invest in its new, growing middle class. Our impact deserves respect.

The impact by American Creative Class workers on the nation’s economic health is massive. Review a few general workforce stats with source links:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports [9] that our overall workforce is 148 million strong as of January 22, 2021. One look at this source report should sound the sirens off for change, understanding, protecting, and respecting the American Creative Class workforce—the economy relies on them.

The Creative Class is the new middle class.

  • We demand understanding, respect, and value for the many roles, responsibilities and skill sets of myself and peers who account for 35% plus of the United States’ economic workforce [1, 2].
  • Continuing to fail with understanding who we are, the new majority—without protecting and investing in our workforce—there is the looming fear that the Creative Class can break the U.S. and global economy for generations to come.

Where to start, and how can the American Creative Class identify itself clearer?

Each Creative Class professional needs to start defining themselves clearer, bolder and louder.  This article is an example—share it, ruffle feathers, have conversations when it arises. 

When asked what you do for a living, educate the inquirer.  Know, yes, you will be misunderstood no matter the delivery, and you will repeat yourselves for years to come as to what you do for a living.  That’s the game.

Introducing a new socioeconomic class to the general population is a fearful concept for average civilians to understand, but to the 56 million peasants who make up America’s workforce and economy, it’s a shared reality we need to accept.

Demand better of those around you who do not understand Creative Class values and skill sets.  Why?  If your friends and family lack understanding of your career, it’s a guarantee that business and government leaders have no idea how to understand, identify and respect us.  We’re all connected. Look at the US Census statistics [9] for proof.

  • Titles for 56 million plus Americans who aren’t being statistically, properly reported; even worse, the data is present, modified, and being inaccurately grouped into umbrella industry categories that bear no resemblance to Creative Class occupations, skill sets, and wages.  Remember above when I stated that Creative Class peers are used to getting f****d?  Here’s proof.
  • Creative Class professionals drive the financial health of the U.S. economy based on being the majority workforce population.
  • The U.S. Census [7, 8], alongside the Bureau of Labor’s statistics [9], continues to ignore the American Creative Class workforce.  30 years of workforce growth isn’t enough to document properly [4]?  Odd, inept, manipulated data?  Or simply:  Overlooked and getting f****d is our norm.

The sad irony remains that the American Creative Class workforce still needs the influence and law-mandated power of federal level leaders to enact change and protection for the good of our nation’s workforce…

… And that is where hope fades away for 56 million plus people who drive the nation’s largest workforce to influence the economy. One hand feeds the other until the larger hand gets tired.

This is a call to action for every one in a hiring, employing, leading, influencer role:

  • Identify and define our professional American Creative Class workforce properly. This starts at the top with business leaders, executives, their actions and ethics—as well as their lack of understanding and respect for others. Change starts there in business.
  • Stop combining six plus occupational roles into 1 sh*t show occupation that offers a less than 10 percentile salary range with zero to third-world level benefits.  Get the f**k out—offensive.
  • Stop devaluing occupational roles; it’s unethical no matter what the law says and doesn’t say.  Start respecting average occupational median salaries, wages, industry-known rates, and fluctuate the growth based on experience and talent.
  • Start investing in the Creative Class workforce because it affects the country at large.

To a few appointed leaders, lawmakers and politicians:

  • Progress forward to document the positive effects of the American Creative Class workforce on the nation’s economy in order to protect us.
  • Overhaul, update, and correct the US Census and the Bureau of Labor reports; as well as how the IRS collects data; each are statistically flawed in their portrayal of a post-industrial American workforce economy. It’s 2021, not 1958. Accurate reporting will assist documenting the Creative Class’s labor impact on the nation’s economic health.
  • Listen to the 56 million American Creative Class workers: We need bills to assist defining who we are; what we are worth; and how we expect to be respected; especially since most businesses aren’t willing or able to.
  • We need federally mandated laws to protect us from labor abuse. It’s out of control, i.e.: Is it normal for educated, experienced freelancers and contractors to chase down payments years later for work produced containing agreements and signatures, that lawyers won’t look twice at if it’s not above an X dollar amount to file claims upon?  Horsesh*t.
  • American Creative Class professionals need help: benefits, ethics, legal services.  Many people assume benefits are a given for any occupation fulfilled. They’re not, especially for Creative Class professionals.
  • Consider a Creative Class union-esque member fee that offers federally mandated protection, benefits, experience tiers and wage standards.  Take care of us, and we’ll happily throw a Creative Class tax owed on that benefit your way need be—and eliminate the recent Trump tax laws that make it tougher on working artists to file work related expenses.  Let the numbers take care of numbers—fairly.
  • Richard Florida’s work to define the American Creative Class needs to be explored further to establish federal mandates encouraging understanding, protecting, respecting, and investing in the U.S.A’s largest workforce.

Note that there is a large sector of American business leaders who do understand the differences between Creative Class occupations, responsibilities and the costs of each. They act as if they don’t understand what the roles entail to benefit their business needs; while lowballing labor expenses the best they can to maintain business revenue/profit margins. They understand clearly who we are, and why they behave as they do.

Business leaders are being conditioned to believe/assume/expect that everyone can be any one of these roles with a smartphone, iPad, and a few apps. And yes, I agree: Everyone can be an amateur DIY marketer, designer, developer, photographer, videographer, soup chef, pizza maker, and sock sewer. Good job or bad job, you get what you don’t pay for.

  • The possibilities are endless for amateurs with a smartphone, an iPad, and a plethora of apps.
  • If you’re running a small business—great—that’s your marketing budget right there in your hands. It’s also dependent on your time, energy, and skillset.  How much are those factors worth to you? Your time’s free?

The American Creative Class workforce is larger than Healthcare, Education, and Manufacturing industry workforces combined [1, 2].  It is the majority workforce, the new middle class, and the backbone of modern America.

Creative Class professionals are also the backbone of the modern global economy, not only America’s workforce.  It all ends up back where this article started:

  • Understanding the Creative Class; its occupations, responsibilities, skill sets, and experiences to identify, unify, protect and invest in it.

Inform your neighbors, strangers, peers, coworkers, superiors, family and friends who need to know who their majority American workforce is represented by—the Creative Class—and how important we are to their country’s well-being. 

The repetitious nature of many details contained within this article are intended to deliver a definitive, loud, annoying call-to-arms.  Start with your best friends and families;  talk to them, start the dialogue, offer them pizza after they’re enlightened.  Only after they’re enlightened, not before—make them work at listening to understand who you are so that they never ask the same question again, “What is it that you actually do for a living?

Have a nice day on the internet.

Dave DeCastris and Katie MaringerDave DeCastris [10, 11, 12] is a midwest based mixed media artist, author, musician, photographer, illustrator,  filmmaker, and creative director specializing in strategic brand design, development, and production across 360° marketing channels for diverse industries and collaborators.  He and his wife, Katie Maringer, SAG Actor and owner of Hazel Studio, have one child and are based in Rockford, Illinois. 

For additional information, contact Dave directly by filling out the form below:

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[1]  Florida, Richard.  “Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing.”  Bloomberg, 9 July 2019, bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-09/maps-reveal-where-the-creative-class-is-growing.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[2]  Florida, Richard.  “The Changing Geography of America’s Creative Class.”  Bloomberg, 27 Aug. 2019, bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-27/the-changing-geography-of-america-s-creative-class.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[3]  The Creative Class Group.  creativeclass.com.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[4]  USDA, Economic Research Service, Data Products.  “Creative Class County Codes.” 20 Sep. 2020, ers.usda.gov/data-products/creative-class-county-codes/documentation.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[5]  Job Hero. “Executive Creative Director Job Description.”  jobhero.com/job-description/examples/graphic-web-design/creative-director/executive.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[6]  The Paladin Companies. Paladin Staff. “Job Descriptions.”  paladinstaff.com/jobs/careers.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[7]  Grundy, Adam. “Manufacturing Still Among Top Five U.S. Employers.”  United States Census Bureau, 2 Oct. 2020, census.gov/library/stories/2020/10/manufacturing-still-among-top-five-united-states-employers.html.  Accessed 25 July 2021..

[8]  Dowell, Earlene K.P..  “Healthcare Still Largest U.S. Employer.”  United States Census Bureau, 14 Oct. 2020, census.gov/library/stories/2020/10/health-care-still-largest-united-states-employer.html.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[9]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.”  22 Jan. 2021, bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18.htm.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[10]  Wolf, Sara. “Creators call Rockford-based website a ‘social experiment,’ not fake news.”  Rockford Register Star, 21 Jan. 2017, rrstar.com/news/20170121/creators-call-rockford-based-website-social-experiment-not-fake-news.  Accessed 25 July 2021..

[11]  Voyage Chicago.  “Meet Dave DeCastris of Andy Whorehall.”   11 Sept. 2018, voyagechicago.com/interview/meet-andy-whorehall-rockford-illinois.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

[12]  Mayor, Jonathan.  “Down Another Rabbit Hole With Dave DeCastris.”   1985 Artists, 1 Nov. 2013, 1985artists.com/artist/dave-decastris.  Accessed 25 July 2021.

“Lost In The Cracks: The American Creative Class” Mixed Media and Words © 2021 Andy Whorehall and Dave DeCastris | Reproduction Not Permitted  |  All Rights Reserved