Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ireland, Miracles, and Women

The Atlantic had a short look at the state of the Irish economy of late: Happy St. Patrick's Day, Ireland! Now About That Miserable Economy ...

Hard not to mention that Ireland was once pointed out as paragon for Pittsburgh to follow. See in the PG: We can import the Irish miracle.

Times change. 

But that is not why I mention it.  The Atlantic touches upon something more relevant to Pittsburgh today.  Ireland has had a dramatic transformation in its economy, recessionary times of late not withstanding.   I've had this discussion with folks from Ireland and it is not me making this statement.  But in Ireland it may be that the case of the Celtic Tiger is really the story of the Celtic Tigress.  Irish women, much like Pittsburgh women before them, lagged their peers in labor force participation and that fact alone may have kept the Irish economy depressed for so long.  So the Atlantic says " The biggest, and only sustainable, gain of the Celtic Tiger economy lay in coaxing women into the workforce, ".

For Pittsburgh, no matter what you read about transformation this, or transformation that, make no doubt that the most meaningful story of transformation in the Pittsburgh economy has been in the story of female labor force participation catching up with the nation's.  The impact of that is bigger than most everything else we talk about when it comes to economic change in Pittsburgh.

I will throw out there again the quote from 1947 that presages it all.   Here is the advice that was ignored until it was too late:
(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.

If that all strikes you as too distant a history to matter.   I will point out again the really remarkable factoid that only in the last couple of years has the number of women working the Pittsburgh region sustainably topped the number of men.   That ratio has come back just a bit and most for the region as a whole these days the employment numbers are about even for men as for women. Still a dramatic change from the past.  For Allegheny County however...  it is clearly now a majority female workforce.  Ponder that.  I have yet to see anyone really take notice, but follow the previous link for some hard data showing the convergence of male and female numbers in local employment data.

Actually, let's update that.  Here is a chart of employment in Allegheny County by Gender:


Anonymous The Wiz said...

If you were to at the economies of countries/areas around the globe, there are two factors that will tell you if a country/area has a strong economy; one is if the people can own their own homes and the other is how large a segment of the female population is participating in the economy. The higher number of each the better the country/area is doing.

BTW nice piece in the PG today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

It is good. I didn't notice until the Wiz said something. I'm still learning the new site.

Sunday, March 18, 2012 11:02:00 PM  

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