In the recently released “The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited”, social scientist and economist Richard Florida updates his ground-breaking book describing the major cultural and economic shifts that mark the ascension of knowledge work in post-industrial America. Using census and economic data, Florida examines the factors that make Creative Class jobs — in science, engineering, technology, architecture, and the arts — the primary drivers for growth today.

The Creative Class Index — based on Richard Florida’s criteria — ranks US cities based on a variety of factors, such as the size of a city’s creative workforce, the local concentration of high tech industries, innovation based on patents per capita, and the diversity of its residents. It’s no surprise then that Boston is highly rated on this list; Our city is ranked third, behind only Boulder and San Francisco. The Creative Class Index, however, have raised no small amount of controversy with critics, who disagree with everything from the rankings to the cities that are included to the criteria for judgement.

The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited

The Daily Beast recently featured a slide show of the America’s Most Creative Cities, from Richard Florida’s index:

  1. Boulder, Colo.
  2. San Francisco, Calif.
  3. Boston, Mass.
  4. Seattle, Wash.
  5. San Diego, Calif.
  6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  7. Corvallis, Ore.
  8. Durham, N.C.
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Trenton, N.J.
  11. Ithaca, N.Y.
  12. San Jose, Calif.
  13. Portland, Ore.
  14. Worcester, Mass.
  15. Burlington, Vt.
  16. Austin, Texas
  17. Hartford, Conn.
  18. Minneapolis, Minn.
  19. Atlanta, Ga.
  20. Tucson, Ariz.

Boston, Cambridge and its surrounding environs, possess many of the creative assets Florida extols — from the universities, to a culture of openness and support, to multidisciplinary areas of the city like Kendall Square where the cross-pollination of design and technology can happen. If there’s any doubt that these assets are a potent combination, a look at the region’s successes provides a powerful testimony. Boston has thrived during the recent economic recovery and gained substantial recognition globally as a center for innovation. For instance, the Economist, in a recent study, ranked Boston as the 10th most competitive city in the world, out of 120 major cities examined. And, similarly, the Index of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy — a key benchmark for measuring our knowledge economy performance, published annually by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative — shows that we have one of the most intensive R&D economies in the world, making up 7% of our GDP.

As knowledge work becomes highly valued, cities may rise and fall based on their ability to attract and retain creative residents. Locales like Boston that have the right kind of resources — such as technological infrastructure and a tolerant culture — will continue to thrive. Whether we’ll ever overtake San Francisco or Boulder on the Creative Class Index, however, remains to be seen.