Monday, September 29, 2008

Tracking the Rust Belt

So tomorrow we will learn the latest unemployment numbers for the region. I understand why we all get fixated on the latest economic data, but I wonder whether it's worth it most of the time. The changes that are happening here are not things that manifest them this month versus last month, or in many cases not even this year versus last year. Some have pointed out to me that my penchant to look at changes in the region over decades may be equally less than useful. What is a happy medium? Up or down, here is the updated version of my neo-Rust Belt tracking chart comparing the unemployment rates in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit since 2000 when all three were pretty comparable. In this chart Cleveland and Detroit have data through August, Pittsburgh's data is through July and we will learn August's number in the morning. Whatever Pittsburgh's latest number shows up as, why the three have been diverging so much is not a subject that has been studied all that much.*

* One exception may be some of the work I referenced in an old post: Shiny Rust Belt.