Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Rust Belt divergence?

Jim Russell must not sleep. From Colorado he is organizing a Rust Belt Bloggers Summt in Erie, PA July 11-12. I will be making at least a part of it the evening of July 11 if anyone is nearby then. I think there are events over that weekend as well. See the link above for more info.

With that as a theme, and with new regional unemployment data released today, here is an update to the graph I put up on occasion that I track. This has the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in those core 'Rust Belt' regions: Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cleveland.

It's a pretty striking time series and one which I suspect most Pittsburghers wouldn't quite believe. What is really important is not just that Pittsburgh is doing relatively well, it's that where once the three regions had nearly identical unemployment rates, you are seeing large and growing divergence. Detroit's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate just hit 9.3% in May (a huge jump from 7.4% the month before... the biggest one-month spike for them in decades) compared to 5.0% here. Cleveland is 7.3%. Looking at the graph, you can parse it even more, the big spikes up of late in Cleveland and Detroit are matched by only a minor 1/10th of a % increase here, and what is funny about that is even that is partially attributed to a strike at Latrobe Steel. Take that out and you will be close to no change at all here while (formerly?) similar regions are seeing historic jumps. I have to admit that this divergence story is one that I don't understand why it does not get any media attention at all.. or not much at least.

This divergence is not about to turn around anytime soon. Auto industry and housing turmoil is far from over for Cleveland and Detroit. While our traditional industries in metals and coal are if anything seeing spiking prices worldwide which means producers here are pushing to produce as much as they can. On local coal and energy, I was driving across Pennsylvania last week and for awhile was only getting reception from a local radio station that was covering live for some time a "oil and gas industry job-fair". I wonder how long it has been since that has happened.

A lot more going on of course. A more thorough look at all this is in some references I mentioned in Shiny Rust Belt a few months ago.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why it does not get any media attention at all.. or not much at least."

My guess on this. The press doesn't report anything unless someone sends them a press release so they don't have to do much work. And, now that Ms. "Luke is like Brittney Spears" is gone, "we're better than Detroit" doesn't seem like good press.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:12:00 PM  

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