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Can Miami rise from being a service economy? There’s hope in the numbers

Although Miami is largely a service economy, the region’s talent base in the professional and creative industries is the 11th largest in the nation, according to the latest report from the joint FIU-Miami Creative City Initiative of Florida International University and the Creative Class Group think tank. Still, the share of Creative Class workers is just 26 percent of the region's employment, ranking it 47th out of the 53 largest metros in the United States.
Although Miami is largely a service economy, the region’s talent base in the professional and creative industries is the 11th largest in the nation, according to the latest report from the joint FIU-Miami Creative City Initiative of Florida International University and the Creative Class Group think tank. Still, the share of Creative Class workers is just 26 percent of the region's employment, ranking it 47th out of the 53 largest metros in the United States.

Although Miami is largely a service economy, the region’s talent base in the professional and creative industries is the 11th largest in the nation, according to the latest report from the joint FIU-Miami Creative City Initiative of Florida International University and the Creative Class Group think tank.

“It’s 682,000 Creative Class workers, that’s a big, big number, that’s bigger than Seattle and Minneapolis and it’s double the size of Austin, Portland and Nashville,” said Richard Florida, the urban affairs expert who authored the report with Steven Pedigo. “We have a big concentration of talent to build on. As we move from an older tourism-hospitality-real estate economy to a budding global knowledge economy – we’re not there yet but we are getting there – that research and scientific base of talent is something we need to strengthen for our future.”

Indeed, the share of Creative Class workers is just 26 percent of the region's employment, ranking it 47th out of the 53 largest metros in the U.S. Greater Miami's Creative Class averages $76,000 in wages and salaries, ranking 26th among large metros, said Pedigo, director of research for the Creative Class Group.

The report, called Building Miami's Creative Economy, is the second in a series in a multi-year project with FIU. The first study, titled “Miami’s Great Inflection: Toward Shared Prosperity as a Creative and Inclusive City” and released last year, was a data-driven analysis of Miami’s economy and talent base, as well as the results of several focus groups with local business leaders.

[READ MORE: Traffic woes, income gap threaten Miami’s emergence as global city]

The new report looks closely at the occupation clusters that make up the Creative Class and included recommendations.

Healthcare was by far the strongest cluster with 154,000 workers, and it is expected to grow 11 percent by 2024. Business and finance followed close behind with 136,000 creative class workers. By 2024, this cluster is expected to grow by 11 percent.

Few regions have managed to turn healthcare into an export cluster, but Greater Miami has with medical tourism, and that is an area that can be further developed, Florida and Pedigo recommended in the report.

Build on Miami's role as a global city and Latin American hub, the report also recommended. This status is reflected in the region's relatively high concentration of CEOs and high-level business and financial managers, Pedigo said.

Still, there are areas of significant challenge. Just 49,000 workers make up the computer and mathematical occupations, or technology, cluster although the tiny cluster is expected to grow by 15 percent by 2024.

“We still think Miami is challenged as a tech center, but technology is something we can embed into our talent base industries, real estate, wealth management, media,” said Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Visiting Fellow of the FIU-Miami Creative City Initiative.

Florida sees a significant opportunity in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media cluster. With 46,000 workers, it is the metro's sixth-largest creative cluster but it is central to Miami's broad creative economy and is expected to grow by 8 percent in the next seven years. “In our view, it’s the media cluster that strengthens Miami’s position in arts, music and design,” Florida said.

Education is Greater Miami's third-largest creative cluster, with roughly 118,000 workers. Although Education is projected to increase by 13 percent over the next seven years, the cluster's current share of employees lags behind the national average by 13 percent. “For post-secondary educators especially, we’re lagging very badly. This is something the region needs to put on the agenda,” Florida said.

If it seems like Miami has a lot of lawyers, it does, comparatively speaking. With 38,000 workers, Greater Miami's legal cluster is 75 percent larger than the national average. However, the area’s 104,000 management employees lags the national average by 28 percent.

Find the report here.

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