Sunday, September 20, 2009

When forecasts are painful

I typed up the latest for the Wettick watch, but there is too much other stuff to note. But there is a new filing and astonishingly another appeal just filed in there. Really. Go look.  91 pages no less.

First thing to read is the Trib’s piece on some history that really is the starting point to understanding the Pittsburgh economy. See: Seeds of Pittsburgh’s Change Rooted in Steel’s Decline. It really is excellent that Robin A. tracked down former Pitt professor Martina Whitman who really was on staff here at Pitt working on the economic study the article talks about . Those reports are from the late 50’s and early 60’s and really are some of the very best research ever done on the Pittsburgh economy then, since then, and even into our future now. It pegged a long term forecast describing the decline of steel with amazing accuracy decades before it would become an accepted fact for most here. And that was just one small piece of the overall report.

Martina Whitman’s involvement is significant in lots of ways as well. We’ll get to the role of women in the local labor force in a minute… but something worth noting. Not to overlook any of Dr. Whitman’s long list of impressive accomplishments, but her full name is Dr. Martina Von Neumann Whitman. Yes that Von Neumann.

Then there is the oped in the PG on the role of women in the Pittsburgh story: How Women Changed Pittsburgh. Starting in the 1990’s I would tell people that the real change in the local labor force was the story of women finally being a part of the labor force in ways they should have been decades ago. It was just not the way anyone was thinking about what was going on and I would mostly get stares. Yet without understanding the impact of women entering the Pittsburgh workforce I am not sure anything else could make sense. It really is the number 1 story, if it makes sense to rank these things, on how the Pittsburgh economy has 'transformed' in the last couple decades.

Nonetheless, the oped goes and references back our own report on the topic. Not mentioned, but we put out our own oped on the topic at the time and we have a forthcoming academic article version to be published in the journal American Behavioral Scientist. Was that really our original work? The same studies Dr. Whitman worked on noted the problem of women missing in the Pittsburgh labor force from that 50’s/60’s period. Going back further I have noted how similar comments can be traced to the 1940’s.

So it all fits together like everything else in Pittsburgh. 

And the PG likes my haiku if you can believe that. Too funny.


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