Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Maybe it would be interesting if compared to this national trend:
So let's see... Labor force = (working age) population x labor force participation
using deeply atrophied algebra (algebra you may not have noticed is under some deeply deeply defeatist attacks of late):
population = labor force / labor force participation
hmmmm........ but so as to be a bit more thorough, it is important to note that Pennsylvania's labor force participation is up 0.5% over the year (June to June).. which if true for the Pittsburgh region would be responsible for a year over year increase in the size of the labor force of around 9,000 people (remember it's a ratio of the working age population)... or roughly 3/8th of the total increase in the region's labor force (+24 thousand) over that time. What you often see in public punditry is an overeliance on the explanation that people are 'jumping into' or out of the labor market as conditions change. Labor force participation changes a lot more slowly than most presume and is not the answer for most variance in the labor force regionally. It is a different issue than for the nation since migration impacts regional labor markets in a distinct way compared to the national labor market.
and just btw... population flows are typically greater than labor market migration flows since workers often bring with them their families.. not all of whom are made up of folks in the labor force.
And just in case we are lacking a resident labor historian I will point out one last little observation. Compare the rates at which Pittsburgh's labor force was growing in the 1970's and what has been the trend the last few years here. Comparable periods? There was this minor social phenomenon called the 'baby boom' that resulted in more than a few people entering the workforce mostly in the 1970s. I think we can all rest assured on the assumption that there was not some secret ramp up in births in Pittsburgh 20 years ago that is responsible for what is going on now.