Tuesday, June 28, 2011

""If I was in Pittsburgh, I would have a guaranteed job,"

Whether true or not, just the fact that this is someone's perception out there is pretty amazing.  From the Philadelphia Inquirer today is a young diasporan's comment: ""If I was in Pittsburgh, I would have a guaranteed job,"  When was the last period anyone even thought such a thing, let alone said it out loud and for the record?   and I might add, didn't have the journalist choke in response?

Just a coincidece that story runs on the day we get the monthly data dump which is showing the regional unemployment rate ticked up a bit.  The curious thing about the regional unemployment rate the last few months is that the trend has diverged from the state's unemployment rate.  Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has trended down, while Pittsburgh's has trended up.  That is unusual over recent years.  What's it mean?  If not a sample error issue that will converge, it is worth watching.  Still the regional unemployment rate is well below the state and far below the nation. by 2.1 percentage points which is nearly a record.

I've been trying to figure if any period before 1970 is comparable to today and it's a bit hard to compare  The lowest recorded unemployment rate for the region since the state began regularly reporting Pittsburgh region labor force data in 1949 I think was 2.3% in November of 1966.  But the labor market area back then was 4 counties and if you did any spatial adjustment it would not be so low.  Still, even then, with a national unemployment rate of 3.6% the difference was only 1.3% points. 

Which all goes back to our quote above. High local employment at 7% or not, people make the best choices they can.  Regional unemployment rates in themselves are not very good predictors of population migration, but relative unemployment rates do much better.  Things could be great in one location, but if things are even better elsewhere folks will move away.  Similarly, things can be bad in one region, but if they are even worse elsewhere folks will move in.  So we are at 57 months and counting since the national unemployment rate was lower than the region's and most of that time by an unprecedented amount. Barring some unprecedented convergence we will get to 5 straight years in the fall.

8 Comments:

Anonymous BrianTH said...

Could the recent divergence in trends have something to do with the fact that while we are unusually strong when it comes to employment trends in most industries, we are weak specifically in construction, which would show up in these months more than others?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I still see the usual trend: People are very positive about Pittsburgh as long as they aren't in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

The biggest job losses in the Pittsburgh MSA were in education and government.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:08:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

"The biggest job losses in the Pittsburgh MSA were in education and government."

darn kids get the summer off.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one MH. On the other hand, I sometimes hear folks say that Pittsburgh is a nice place to live, but they wouldn't want to visit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

... his old jobs in Pittsburgh - gas stations, pizza places, a dry cleaners and a McDonald's.

How did he give up such a meteoric career like that in PIT to move to PHI?

The unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds is that only available as national data? There is no state, or metro data?

I would not be surprised if there is less youth unemployment in PIT, since we have a smaller young adult percentage of the total population.

Neither PIT newpsaper story mentioned young adult unemployment, but that was the main point of the PHI article.

Maybe we need a naked bike ride like they have in PHI?


Of course, it does not surprise me that right now PIT has a positive unemployment differential, both national, and state wide. We didn't bubbles here, either to the positive (boom) or negative (bust) effect. No real DOT COM bubble. Definitely no housing bubble, therefore no housing market crash.

Just Goldilocks.

Medium.

Bland.

Tepid.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:25:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Glad you are still with us Amos

The youth unemployment rate is something I can calculate if I need it, but it is so rarely a policy topic in town since people spend so little on youth related programs here. But as a time series, unemployment rates for narrow age ranges like that tend to show a lot oc variability due to sample error issues.

I think in general we are well past the "we didn't boom, so we didn't bust", arguments at this point.. but that is just me. Might have been part of the story the first few years, but it just does not explain much over a longer period.

and I dunno.. Goldilocks may be a moral imperative for some.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:51:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

Pittsburgh is a tortoise among hares, and slow and steady wins the race.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:57:00 PM  

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