Saturday, January 03, 2009

manufacturing numbers

So the Pittsburgh Biz Times has an editorial that is trying to say manufacturing is still the driving sector of the local economy. The key fact showing this comes in this quote:

But it (manufacturing) remains a vital part of the local economy. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the region had 98,000 manufacturing jobs in November — nearly double the 53,400 in health and education services, industries often cited as the future of Pittsburgh employment.

Problem is that the 53,400 number is actually just the employment number for one sub-sector, specifically: "General Medical and Surgical Hospitals". The BLS is actually reporting that the total current employment in the region's "health and education services" sector is 236,600 or roughly 240% of the size of the entire manufacturing sector. So even before we talk about what the present trends are in the two sectors, the numbers are backwards.

Thus the logic of the editorial seems to lead to the exact opposite conclusion than is intended. Not that I actually agree with either version of that argument. My opinion is that there isn't any one sector that rises to the level of importance that steel once had here. So this isn't about whether we still are a manufacturing region or not, or a health and education region or not. The economy now and in the future will only move forward if it builds competitiveness across a range of industries that are able to adapt and change as the world changes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a letter to the editor is in order, don't you?

Sunday, January 04, 2009 12:08:00 PM  

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