Tuesday, May 01, 2007

a persistent aberration?

So last month I noted how the media completely wrote off the February unemployment statistic that came out, saying that a big drop in the local unemployment rate was a statistical aberration. I concurred to a degree that it was most likely a one-off number that would correct itself the following month.... but I felt the extremes the media went to write off what isn't bad news endemic to the Pittsburgh psychology more than anything else.

I was wrong. The March numbers are out and not only did the local unemployment rate not correct itself by going up, it went down further, from 3.9% in February to 3.7% in March. A number which puts us even further below the US average of 4.4%. The last time it was lower was 3.1% in February 1970. There was one brief month in June 1991 when the local and US unemployment rates were 6.1% and 6.9% respectively and thus an equal 0.8% difference. Just another factoid of note. The seasonally adjusted unemployment count of 43,000 is also the lowest since February of 1970. What was the peak unemployment count in the 7 county region: 201 thousand in January of 1983.

So we will wait another month to see if this aberration corrects itself. Here is what the graph looks like of the time series of the difference in unemployment rates locally vs. those in the US:

maybe one last question to ponder. They have not even started construction of the casino unless I am mistaken. I bet Don Barden would have had that project geared up if not for legal and administrative roadblocks. What would the numbers look like if that had come online already. It's a big enough project that he wants to get done quickly that it could in itself be noticed in the numbers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You'd also have to believe if these numbers are sustained that at some stage we'd finally begin to pull folks in from other parts of the country (or world) to balance our numbers back out. At some point, people would begin to gravitate correct?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment. At some point, it seems, the tipping point will come when there are more available jobs than qualified people to fill them. We scored some home runs recently with Westinghouse and USAirways. USAirways folks will probably be coming from Phoenix, but it looks like Westinghouse will be hiring from all over. Collateral jobs from that may start bringing more people, which in turn would create more demand for more goods and services to service more people, and the upward trend can begin.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

research out there is that relative unemployment rates are a factor in migration flows within the US... that's why I maintain that graph actually. Not the only predictor of course, but useful.. and for migration purposes more useful than the actual unemployment rate itself which even if low here, may be lower elsewhere or vice versa.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 3:34:00 PM  

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