Saturday, May 22, 2010

Florida invasion

You know, we can dominate all the academic (and pseudo-academic) ratings games we can, but at the end of the day it really does come down to counting those who vote with their feet.  

Thus it really is worth pointing out what Jim R. caught in Florida news  of folks fleeing the Sunshine State for Pittsburgh?? Ok, just one 'folk' and 'fleeing' may be as misused for them as it often was for us... Nonetheless, lots of positive Pittsburgh thoughts in that article as well.  I'm trained to not make too much of anecdotal points like this, but I am pretty sure you could have gone several decades where it would have been impossible to find a single story of someone leaving Florida because they could only find work in Pittsburgh, let alone see it written about in the Florida media no less.   It really does not compute.

The fact that this is all in the middle of a recession* is all the more curious.   What would the unemployment rate be here if folks like this were not moving here for jobs?  Forget all those foreign immigrants, it's these folks from Florida coming and taking 'our' jobs.  I wonder if this guy is going to settle in Cranberry.  At least Florida is not sending us their pythons.

Our new Pittsburgher is a darn Princetonian to boot and a boomeranger no less.  No diaspora report in some time??    Just saying. 

update:  This does not count as a diaspora report ok...  but PG+ picks up the story and has offered a beer to our new neighbor.  Good line that it all could be good fodder for the Onion in a counterfactual world.  Makes me think that what we need is a "Welcome to Pittsburgh" blog. I know some have things that come close to that, but.......


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*  yeah, yeah I know... While they have not defined the recession end officially; when they do we may very well be out of it...

3 Comments:

Blogger illyrias said...

Hmmm... if they're not the neighbors that moved in down the street from me, we have two Florida families. We also have a woman from Wisconsin and a guy from Michigan who moved into the small radius around my house looking for work. Two empty houses filled and one who will start renting on his own when he finds a job. The anecdotal stories are starting to pile up.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

For fun (yes, I know), I pulled up labor force statistics for the Pittsburgh MSA, each March from 2000 to 2010. These are NSA, but that shouldn't matter since it is the same month:

2000 1184699
2001 1206827
2002 1205938
2003 1193584
2004 1192606
2005 1189400
2006 1194235
2007 1190561
2008 1207338
2009 1216078
2010 1221683

So our labor force actually increased during the recession, whereas usually people exit the labor force as they become discouraged by employment conditions. It also implies whatever increases we see in the labor force going forward can't be solely attributed to people being drawn back into the labor force by improving employment conditions.

So unless I am missing something, it would seem there has to be a big component of in-migration, to explain how our labor force could be steadily increasing. There may also be an underlying in-and-out cycle among the original residents, but it must have been swamped by this implied in-migration.

And again for fun, I calculated what would happen if you assumed the same employed as of March 2010, but a labor force the same size as of March 2007 (a lot of questionable assumptions there, of course). You get an unemployment rate (NSA) of 6.4%, as opposed to the 8.9% reported.

So that is one attempt to estimate the effect in-migration might be having on the local unemployment rate. Obviously that is a dubious methodology in various ways, but something on the order of an additional 2% doesn't strike me as implausible.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

it's a good way of looking at it. We probably don't have quite enough data to evaluate the counterfactual, but that gets the 80% answer I am pretty sure. And the April data is pretty likely to show a bump up in labor force. If so it's an even stronger case that there is net in-migration of working-age folks continuing.. That is the bigger story in all this data that nobody is really focusing on.

Think on this some more. Some of the story in the most recent data is not really so much that there is any big recent net job growth, but that the bad winter suppressed jobs (or just the reporting) in Jan/Feb. So the overinterpretation of the lower jobs number then may just have a corollary in higher jobs numbers in the most recent data (or data about to come). Still, we are in a better spot than a lot of other regions for sure.. and the story of the dude from Florida moving here is probably hard for the nabobs to counter directly other than by saying its a single story.. But as I points out, there seem to be many such stories of late.

Sunday, May 23, 2010 9:47:00 AM  

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