Creative businesses are booming

The number of Australians in “creative” employment has grown from 463,500 people in 2006 (5.1 per cent of the workforce) to 531,000 people in 2011 (5.3 per cent), newly-analysed data from the 2011 census shows.

The creative sector – which encompasses advertising and marketing, architecture, design and visual arts, film, TV newspapers and radio, music and performing arts, publishing, software and digital content – is one of the fastest-growing segments of the national economy.

“The creative industries, and sectors which employ creative professionals, gained around 70,000 jobs in the five years 2006-11,” says professor Stuart Cunningham, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at the Queensland University of Technology. “This is well above the rate of growth in the Australian workforce in general.”

Creative professionals now outnumber mining sector employees three-to-one, and those of agriculture fishing and forestry two-to-one.

Professor Cunningham says: “This gives some feel for how this sector is emerging relative to two traditional ‘backbone’ industries.”

The analysis by CCI reveals that slow growth in the cultural products industry (1%) was more than offset by a dramatic 4.5 per cent expansion in employment in creative services – more than double that of the Australian workforce overall (2%). While the publishing industry shrank during the Census period – mainly due to newspaper cutbacks – this was counterbalanced by dynamic growth in photography, digital content and software development, and also in activities like architecture, advertising, marketing, digital content, where creative people deal on a business-to-business basis rather than a business-to-consumer basis.

There has also been particularly strong employment growth in digital publishing, which grew at a cumulative annual rate of 14% between 2006 and 2011.

The growth rate of 7.8% for creative artists, musicians and performers is likely the result of more people “going freelance”  or becoming self-employed.

Graphic arts consulting services, product design and fashion design grew by 3.8%, and professional photography by 5.5%.

Cunningham says. “Overall, it’s a good news story, even if there are some black spots like newspapers and traditional arts. Australia’s creative services are mainstream, thoroughly embedded across the economy, and growing rapidly.”


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