Monday, June 06, 2011

Not your father's workforce

We'll crib off Mike explicitly this time, who is himself commenting on Harold's column over the weekend on women owned businesses.  All I can say it reminds me again of a quote I have wound up using a lot.  Really, it is one of the most remarkable quotes I have ever found about the Pittsburgh economy, past, present, or future, and use whenever the topic comes up:
(Pittsburgh) will, however, slowly decline unless new industries employing women and those engaged in the production of consumer goods are attracted to the area.
Which is from a report written by a place called the Econometric Institute based in News York City and titled: "Long Range Outlook for the Pittsburgh Industrial Area", stamped February 12, 1947 and was for the Allegheny Conference and the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.

That date is no typo and as we have looked at this in depth, it really was true for a long long time that female labor force participation in Pittsburgh lagged the nation by a lot. It really took decades after the employment within manufacting imploded for the region's labor force to reach some semblence of gender-normalcy when compared to the nation.  This change in the regional labor force I still will argue is the single biggest factor in the economic transformation of Pittsburgh over the last 25 years.  Put another way, as long as women failed to have similar opportunities here compared to elsewhere, the entire regional economy was doomed to lag the nation.  It was as predicted in 1947.

No secret that Harold is often talking about manufacturing.  It is indeed the continuing decline in local manufacutring employment that has precipitated the speed at which we have acheived a new paradigm I mentioned recently as well... namely that the regional workforce has in some recent quarters become majority women.  Here is some more specific data for employment in Allegheny County which has now been majority women year-round since 2005. 


Blogger Vannevar said...

Excellent, as always. I wonder if the W-factor is consistent globally, iow are societies that minimize the role of women likely to fall behind societies that treat women like... people?

Monday, June 06, 2011 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I know a lot of studies have concluded that the more women contribute to economic development, the better. It is kind of hard to imagine that wouldn't be the case--you really can't afford to waste over 50% of your potential human capital. Of course you also need some women (and some men) spending time on things like child-raising and such, but I believe the definitive conclusion is that you are better off achieving that end with policies that allow women to play multiple roles (e.g., better parental leave policies, better daycares/preschools/schools, and so on), rather than forcing women to go 100% one way or another.

But I also think there is a general problem with a lot of data and statistics not necessarily recognizing fully the economic contributions of women. As I recall, that makes it a little harder to sort out exactly what role women may be playing in the economy of any given country.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

@Vannevar; Dr Thomas Barnett, author of "The Pentagon's New Map" and a military strategist/terrorism expert, has stated that the integration of women into the workforce is the definitive factor in the economic viability of a nation and he has produced mapping to illustrate the point.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 10:49:00 AM  

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