Friday, August 19, 2011

random wonkery

I am a little far away so I don’t know if this is an error in the print edition or not. PG’s online headline on its main web page says “Regions’s unemployment rate rises“ (emphasis added).  But the news out was just for the state's labor force.  The online story itself has the right title though. 


Obligatory Marcellus Shale coverage.  We would retitle the big biz story today as 'Voting with your shale'

Speaking of Marcellus.  I wonder what those who like to confuse correlation with causality have to say about the two main stories today: 1) Marcellus Shale natural gas output in Pennsylvania spiked (which Platts pointed out earlier in the week) this year and 2) state unemployment is up (see link earlier). But we are all too smart to be that superficial.  Looking in depth into the numbers we see that jobs are indeed up in the state and by industry are being lead by job growth in health care and education services. Clearly Marcellus Shale development is getting people into the hospital more and pushing folks to enroll in higher education.

Joking aside I really am wondering more and more about the displacement of employment in other industries being caused by the demand for workers derived from Marcellus Shale development. Could be a part of the jobs story for the state. 


I see the headline about how the Mayor wants to return expanded parking meter hours to their traditional 6pm. They were expanded to 10pm as part of the great pension imbroglio (as short as I can put it). Two big things to me. In terms of sheer transparency, and easy transparency it would be… there must me a giginormous amount of data the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has that would be fun to play with. Wouldn’t it be fun to parse the changes in revenues and tickets since the hours were expanded. If you are reading here you might actually say yes to that, but think about what we could do if that data were available in aggregate or even by neighborhood or finer detail?  Can you say 'parking revenue elasticity'?

The bigger point on the parking story is that it is curious the relatively minor story of parking hours is in the news at all right now. The city is on the hook to deliver to the state very very soon the most important number relevant to all of this. Is the city really taking to the very last minute to produce the benchmark pension actuary report which will be the key datapoint in deciding if the state will take over the pension system??  That number will be the single most important factor impacting the city for the next decade and beyond yet we seem to be on silent running. No way they don’t have that number already. Waiting to the last minute to actually deliver it is only going to make the state's situation worse as they try to evaluate the numbers... oh, yeah....duh!    Seems to me that the most important story all around is why we don’t know the ‘final’ numbers on any of that yet. Gonna be an interesting ride.


And everyone is talking bees. Multiple stories in the PG and even Mike is into it. We be bees here from the beginning. Ha. I do wonder what happened to Bob’s bees.


Anonymous The Wiz said...

Finally read through that Regional Pittsburgh report from WVU. I agree with almost all of it but I could have said it with half the words. One thing they didn't discuss that I think is a huge benefit is that many of these jobs are very high paying (starting at $60,000 and up) without requiring a college education. Many are even fine for high school dropouts.

And they like veterans if you know of any. Vets are used to long hours in all weather and getting dirty.

One big problem in this country is that those that drop out can no longer get quality jobs like in the old days. One used to be able to get a job in a steel mill or auto factory and have a good life. This gas play should be a major help for many of those people.

As for possible job displacement, I have heard that truck drivers were quitting some jobs to work for trucking companies hauling for well development. Central Pa and NY have a hard time finding drivers for their milk trucks.

All those jobs that are showing up in education services....could that be teachers that were laid off in the spring during the state budget imbroglio are now being called back after much of the funding was restored? Seems strange that education jobs are up when many schools are cutting staff.

Friday, August 19, 2011 3:11:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Looks like it was another good month in the CES survey for the region. I've got us improving another 3200 against same-month losses from peak (only down about 7400 now). And it is increasingly looking like something just went funny with the survey in May.

Friday, August 19, 2011 3:45:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

By the way, I think we are also on pace to average more employees in 2011 than in any year from 2003-2005, and maybe 2006. Kinda funny for a supposedly shrinking region with elevated unemployment.

Friday, August 19, 2011 3:49:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

After Oakland floats away, the job picture might get worse.

Friday, August 19, 2011 4:09:00 PM  

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