Maps

America's Leading Creative Class Counties

A county-by-county breakdown of the U.S. creative class.

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Yesterday, I charted America’s leading creative class states. Nationwide, the creative class totals more than 40 million workers, more than a third of the total workforce, including professionals in the fields of science and technology, design and architecture, arts, entertainment and media, and healthcare, law, management and education.

Today, I turn to an even smaller geographic unit, the county. There are 50 American states and more than 350 metros, but more than 3,000 counties. The data compiled by my MPI colleague Kevin Stolarick is from the American Community Survey.

The map above, by MPI's Zara Matheson, charts the concentration of the creative class by county. Below is a list of the top 20 counties:

1. Los Alamos County, NM  65.9 percent 
2. Arlington County, VA  60.8 percent 
3. Falls Church, VA  58.9 percent 
4. District of Columbia  53.7 percent 
5. Kalawao County, HI  52.5 percent 
6. Alexandria, VA  53.4 percent 
7. New York County, NY  51.9 percent 
8. Fairfax County, VA  51.8 percent 
9. Howard County, MD  51.6 percent 
10. Loudoun County, VA  50.9 percent 
11. Montgomery County, MD  51.0 percent 
12. Fairfax City, VA  48.2 percent 
13. Carter County, MT  47.0 percent 
14. San Francisco County, CA  46.2 percent 
15. Albemarle County, VA  45.3 percent 
16. Douglas County, CO  44.4 percent 
17. Middlesex County, MA  45.1 percent 
18. York County, VA  44.9 percent  
19. Marin County, CA  44.5 percent 
20. Orange County, NC  44.1 percent 

Nationwide, the leading creative class county is Los Alamos, New Mexico, home to the famous laboratory that bears its name. Nearly 70 percent of its workers are employed in creative class occupations.

The greater Washington D.C., area also does particularly well. Arlington County, Virginia, is second; Falls Church, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are third and fourth. Alexandria County, Fairfax County, Howard County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County and Fairfax City are all in the top 15.

The Bay Area also does well: San Francisco County is 14th and nearby Marin County in 19th. Middlesex County, Massachusetts, which includes Cambridge and other Boston suburbs, is 17th. Kalawao County, on the north coast of the island of Molokaʻi in Hawaii, places fifth.

Douglas County, Colorado, outside of Denver is 16th. North Carolina's Orange County (which includes Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina) is 20th.

On the flip side, the creative class accounts for less than 10 percent of the workforce in the lowest ranked county. It also makes up less than a fifth of the working population in more than 200 others.

While some of these places are small rural counties, research by David McGranahan and Timothy Wojan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that a large number of rural counties have significant creative class shares, comparable to those in larger urban metros. Carter County, Montana, for example, ranks 13th in the nation.

This post is an abridged and revised excerpt of material from The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited, out this month from Basic Books.

Photo credit: Adriano Castelli/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

  • Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More
    Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here