In 2002 Richard Florida made an important argument in "Rise of the Creative Class." This segment of our society is sizable and makes great contributions to the economy.
"The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to 'create meaningful new forms.' The super- creative core of this new class includes scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the 'thought leadership' of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion-makers. Members of this super-creative core produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and broadly useful---such as designing a product that can be widely made, sold and used; coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many cases; or composing music that can be performed again and again."
According to Florida, there were 38.3 million Americans in this group in 2002.