Brain Gain even if not by choice
Models of migration come up with an impact of the relative economic conditions in one region versus elsewhere. It's the relative part that's important. Just because things are getting worse here, if things are that much worse elsewhere it will affect migration decisions. The converse is also important. Even if things are doing well here, but if things are super-hot elsewhere, people will still leave. That was probably the case explaining outmigration rates from Pittsburgh in the latter part of the 1990's.
How to measure relative economic conditions? Relative job growth, relative wage levels and other things all matter, but one big question in migration metrics is understanding which factor is causal and not just an effect. Relative unemployment rate seems to be a decent metric for capturing what is driving migration decisions in the near term future. Thus why I have sometimes shown my tracking of the regions unemployment rate relative to the US.
But here is a different picture of how Pittsburgh's unemployment rate compares. I have mapped out the 20 regions which typically attract the most people migrating out of Pittsburgh. The size of the bubbles represents the typical size of the outmigration flow and the color represents the relative rate of unemployment compared to Pittsburgh.
So in 15 of those 20 regions, the unemployment rate is worse than here. We are tied with NY for the moment, but I bet that will change given the carnage in the fiancial industry. Basically, in most of the places where Pittsburgher's usually head off to, things are bad and getting worse. So within all the regular churn in the job market here (much larger than the population change would imply), those folks who might normally be looking for, or at least be amenable, to jobs in other regions are probably finding their job prospects in those other markets to be diminished of late. Thus they stay, even if they are unemployed. Thus our unemployment may go up, but so does labor force. Likewise I bet more than a few people finding economic conditions elsewhere pretty bad are moving here sometimes after they have found a job or even to come back to look for a job.