Think Tank Ranks St. Louis High in "Creative Class" Output...Not!

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

The other day a colleague forwarded along a link citing a study in which St. Louis was ranked no. 4 in the nation for our Creative Class* contributions to the nation's greater good.

Or so it first appeared.

In a short paper titled "Is your Region ... Creative, Innovative, Productive, ... or Just Populated?" the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute reveals what it found when it "decided to analyze...four measures (GDP, population, Creative Class and patents) across the individual U.S. metros in relation to the metro totals. We sorted every metro according to their individual shares and determined where each metro makes its greatest contribution to the overall totals."

The paper displays a li'l chart for each measure. Here's the one for "Creative Class":

Think Tank Ranks St. Louis High in "Creative Class" Output...Not!
Martin Prosperity Institute

*The paper doesn't supply a definition of "Creative Class," but it's fair to presume the authors are on the same page as Richard Florida, who coined the phrase. Florida, you see, is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute.

Now, we'll forgive you if you conclude that the St. Louis region ranks fourth among all MSAs -- that's charticlespeak for Metropolitan Statistical Areas -- when you tally up how many Creative Class members we supply to the overall MSA total of same.

But we wouldn't advise you to bet the ranch house on it.

It took us about an hour and a half that in hindsight we'd really like to have back, but we're here to tell you that the good civic boosters of St. Louis -- along with their brethren in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Baltimore and, yes, Pittsburgh -- shouldn't go trotting off to Kinko's to buff up the ol' regional résumé just yet.

Because what the chart really tells us is that St. Louis ranks fourth among MSAs that account for a higher percentage of the overall "Creative Class" than patents, population, or GDP.

Which makes sense in a sad Midwestern underperforming sort of way. We obviously don't contribute much in any of the areas mentioned if the 1.2 percent we pitch in to the overall Creative Class population is the best we can do. All that means is that we suck even worse when it comes to population, patents awarded and GDP.

On the bright side, here's the chart for "Population":

Think Tank Ranks St. Louis High in "Creative Class" Output...Not!
Martin Prosperity Institute

At least we lead the way in something more productive than overall mass.

Incidentally, by the think tank's reckoning, "The top 5 metros that contribute the most to the U.S Metro Creative Class are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Boston. These 5 metros contribute to 23.33% of the total U.S. metro Creative Class occupation total."

Yeah, and the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Nats, Orioles and Red Sox suck!

You can download the entire "Martin Prosperity Insights" paper here. Have a good weekend.