Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beyond the headline - labor force history

Yes, there is a snippet of news that the local unemployment rate has ticked up to 8.1%.   Still well below the US rate at 9.7%.   The bigger negative factoid is that unemployment count in the region is an even 100K.  Round numbers always catch my eye, but that is a bad number for sure.  That is all bad, but the weather may have both local and national numbers a bit off of trend for a couple months.

BUT... what nobody seems to have noticed, not even the state itself, and what is something I need to think about a lot more...  the county for the region's seasonally adjusted labor force in January came in at 1,240,100.  If that is a robust number (by that I mean it does not get revised too much in coming months), I think it is the single largest count for the labor force in the region in the last 40 years... which is all I keep track of.  I am pretty sure that would make it the single largest labor force count in the region's history.

What's it mean?  I ponder, you decide.  But it is big big news no matter what the headline says.

How is the labor force going up despite the unemployment rate ticking up?  Only hypotheses from me with the data we have at this point, but it could either be all those new natural gas drillers, or possibly the roofers.  Well, I guess the roofers would not show up in the data yet.

I'll add a picture.  Here is what I see as the history of labor force in the 7 county MSA:

9 Comments:

Blogger Jim Russell said...

I'll take a stab at interpretation.

The first thing that popped into my head upon reading your post is the discussion about unemployment in Charlotte and Portland (OR). Is Pittsburgh having trouble absorbing in-migrants?

Upon further reflection, the seeming contradiction of data may also indicate that the non-manufacturing part of the economy is growing. I'd have to take some time to work through the implications. Pittsburgh at peak employment right now blows my mind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 1:38:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

not peak employment... peak labor force.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 1:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

Oh, sorry about that. Then forget the second paragraph. I'll stick with my first guess.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

Concerning natural gas employment, interesting piece detailing the situation in Bradford County.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 1:51:00 PM  
Blogger n'at said...

Could our inmigrants be unemployed youngsters moving back in with the 'rents, and the increases in labor from public and private service positions?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 4:15:00 PM  
Blogger Grimace said...

Is there any breakdown of the amount of women in the workforce now as compared to say, 1990 or 1975?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, n'at. Compare to peer metros' labor force trajectories.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:01:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

there is a short term story in that, and a long term story. The long term story is mostly the gender story.

Lots of those details are in this:

http://www.ucsur.pitt.edu/files/frp/DeitrickGenderWageDisparity12-07.pdf

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:07:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

and it sounds like we need to send Toland up to Bradford County yes?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:47:00 PM  

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