Ok.. I am not ignoring all the caveats that are important when looking at unemployment rates (sample size issues, labor force vs. unemployment, etc.. etc).. but still it is worth talking more about the trend in Pittsburgh's unemployment rate of late. Only because we can all rest assured that if this trends had been the opposite (i.e. rising vs. falling so much so fast) it would have been a number one story for a week. Everyone would have been talking about how the roof was falling in.
Here is a new factoid: Pittsburgh is tied for first for the largest DROP in unemployment rates
over the last year among large metro areas. I am not sure there is a similar month we could have ever said that in the past and I am too lazy to go figure it out myself. But again, if the situation were reversed, anyone want to bet it would have been a top of news/above the fold type of story, not buried on an inside biz page at best or in the case of this relative ranking, not mentioned at all locally. If the data supported it, I bet someone would have resurrected the font size used to announce Pearl Harbor for a headline of "Largest Unemployment Rate Increase in the Nation"
I thought that a more positive blog-comment than ranting about Mike Seate's column in the Trib today
where he also makes this unsupported leap about how population loss is all about young people leaving. It just isn't true. No need to repeat myself, my venting on this is here
.The funny thing is that in the end, bad premises and quarter-baked logic aside, I agree with his conclusion that that migration is really a job story in the end.
There is also a false conclusion between the lines of Mike's column. He implies that everyone is "hoofing it out" as he puts it because of low wages. People can't seem to even contemplate that they might just have the causality backwards. Thus the great conundrum of the Pittsburgh labor market. We produce so many highly educated graduates, and so many of them stick around that local wages are not pressured to shoot up. I have pointed out before that if you look at the younger working age population, the proportion of Pittsburghers with higher education ranks near the top
. So it just isn't true that they are all fleeing. Maybe local employers, having the luxury of so many highly educated workers (and so many who are staying by the way) being pumped into the local labor market, don't need to offer the same salaries as other areas which need to attract workers from across the country. We are in many ways a victim of our own success, yet persistently see it as a failure.
Actually, not to overly pick on Mike, but it is worth noting that the foil for his column is a friend who left Pittsburgh with a career as a TV producer. Think about that. Is it surprising that people in fairly specialized occupations wind up gravitating toward the regions which have concentrations of specific industries? So TV producers to Atlanta (which as Mike points out has CNN and the Weather Channel among others in addition to a large local market media). A lot of actors, directors and producers go to California and New York I bet as well. This is how the American labor market works. The media biz might be a case in point even. Anyone wonder why there is no dedicated journalism school per se in town. If Pittsburgh had ever been a hotbed of media employment I am quite sure Pitt would have created a J-School long ago and the fact that it never has is indicative of the lack of an inordinant media presence here going back a long time. So more power to his friend who chose a career he wanted and found a job he wanted in a region where they do a lot of it. But to infer that it reflects badly on Pittsburgh is a stretch.
HM HM HM