The big little very creative city?

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Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development has just released a report that sheds some light on Auckland’s diverse creative workforce and its impact on the local economy. And the results make for surprising—and, if you like rubbing it in to Australians, impressive—reading.

The purpose of the report was to improve the understanding of Auckland’s creative employment by applying a proven methodology to employment and earnings data from recent NZ Censuses (2001-2006). And it found that one in ten employees in Auckland can be categorised as creative.

Approximately 55,200 people were in creative employment within Auckland in 2006, which comprised of some 36,447 people employed in both creative and non-creative occupations within specific creative industries. The balance of 18,771 people are those employed in creative occupations across the rest of the economy (i.e. embedded creatives in non-creative industries).

A fortunate side effect of the research is that we’ve now got proof Auckland is more creative than comparable cities across the ditch.

Creatives make up 8.68 percent of Auckland’s total employment compared to  8.71 per cent for Sydney’s, even though Sydney has a workforce three times the size of Auckland (perhaps not surprisingly, Auckland has twice the density of Sydney of employment in film industries). When compared with cities of a similar workforce Auckland has approximately 50 percent higher creative density than Brisbane and 70 percent higher than Perth.

Of course, creativity is important if a city hopes to have a sense of culture. But it’s also a massive economic driver and creative employment generates almost $3 billion each year in direct wages and salaries.

At almost 12 percent of the amount paid to Auckland’s workforce, this is higher than the 8.7 percent share that creative employment comprises of Auckland’s workforce.

As James Hurman’s book The Case for Creativity argues, creative advertising—and creativity in general—equals business success for clients. It also equals better wages for workers. On average, those in creative employment earn $53,600 per annum, which is $11,000 higher than Auckland’s workforce mean income of $42,600.

Typically, those money hungry capitalists in the creative segments of digital content, advertising and marketing, radio and television earn substantially higher incomes while those poor sods in visual arts, music and performing arts typically earn less than Auckland’s workforce mean income.

60 percent of employment (21,903 people) within creative industries occurs within the creative services industries of design, digital content and advertising and the balance (14,544) are employed in creative arts industries such as visual and performing arts, film, television and radio, publishing and music.

Between 2001 and 2006, Auckland’s creative employment grew at a faster rate (an average of 5.5 percent per annum) than its total workforce (3.3 percent) and than New Zealand’s overall creative employment (4.7 percent), so that might buoy the spirits of business commentators who want New Zealand to diversify its economy and tap into almost mythical creative economy.

In that period across New Zealand 22,584 creative jobs were added and of these 51 percent or 11,514 new jobs were created in Auckland. Creative employment accounted for 11 percent of all new Auckland jobs between 2001 and 2006. Of course, that pesky recession hit a couple of years later, and as we all know, that had a profound effect on the job market in the creative services.

  • Check out the whole report here.


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