Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Pittsburgh Peak Labor

Just one way to look at the monthly dump of labor force data for the Pittsburgh MSA. The headline is that the region's unemployment rate dropped 2/10ths of a percent to 6.7%, but that just isn't the story.  I will point out though that to overparse the rate dropped to just under 6.66%.  If the unemployment count had dropped just a couple hundred more it would have been a 3/10's of a percent drop over the month. That rarely happens. 

Anyways... here is a far more interesting trend with the latest data appended. 

February 2012 labor force = 1,235,200.  It was a bit higher in October of last year, but it is the highest ever for a February. The year over year jump being reported of +16K is pretty meaningful even if not really commented on anywhere.  There is a subtle transition going on in the regional economy you can start to see with this months data.  The absolute labor force peak for the region was a single month spike showing up in October 2008. That one month came in at 1,238,500, not all that much higher than the number just reported and I will stretch to say October this coming fall will really be a peak.  These are the seasonally adjusted numbers which should smooth variations within the year, but I don't think the adjustment really captures the scale of seasonal employment shifts here in Pittsburgh.  So October is typically not smoothed over and can be a spike because it captures both the back to school employment which is big here, while a lot of summer construction is continuing.  

The shift is that when you go back and look at October 2008 it was right in the middle of the AP-dubbed 'Great Recession'.  So lots of anomalous things going on in a lot of regional labor markets that were probably inhibiting normal migration flows across the nation.  Economic worries in a lot of places that were hit harder than Pittsburgh probably were not 'pulling' people from Pittsburgh at normal rates.  People staying in place here, while others coming here from regions that were already seeing rapid job losses probably played into the labor force surge here at the time. 'Surge' relative to what Pittsburgh has normally experienced in recent years. 

Now however, there has been a significant drop in the national unemployment rate and national job growth over the last year.  In a lot of regions Pittsburgh normally 'competes' with for people and jobs the rebound has been significant.  So the 'pull' of people and jobs elsewhere has probably started to return to normal levels.  Yet there is no sign of a turnarourd in the upward labor force trend here. That really marks a different dynamic if these trends sustain themselves. 

If recent labor force trends showing Pittsburgh comparing well to the nation were really mostly an artifact of the recession, then when the recession ended. you might expect things to revert for Pittsburgh. I was not expecting it because Pittsburgh's divergence from national trends began well before the recession even appeared, but it was something to watch for. For the moment the evidence is that Pittsburgh's trends were not a corollary of the recession. If the relative differences in unemployment rates (Pgh vs. US) continue, it bodes well for migration trends as reinforced by the labor force numbers.  Little secret, but labor force participation rates do not jump around anywhere near as much as people think they do.  Near term trends in labor force at a regional level is more impacted by workforce migration.


Blogger BrianTH said...

I continue to think the labor force story may be the biggest economic story in the region no one but a few people are talking about (although Chris has more ability to popularize ideas than I do, so maybe this will make a difference).

By the way, by my calculations a disproportionate share of the labor force growth for the MSA year over year was in Allegheny County, and an even more disproportionate share was in the City of Pittsburgh (this is comparing percentages of the overall labor force growth to percentages of population count).

And that is REALLY a story not many people seem prepared to hear or tell.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

The number of really stupid U-turns seems to be increasing, so you may be right about people moving into the city if they're coming from New Jersey.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

ray ban wayfarer
michaek kors outlet
gucci outlet
canada goose jackets
tory burch sale
hollister outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
replica watches for sale
coach outlet
michaek kors handbags
cheap oakleys
michael kors handbags
toms shoes
coach factory outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet online
coach factory outlet
michael kors handbags
jordans for sale
fake oakleys
oakley sunglasses
toms shoes
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet online
pandora jewelry
cheap uggs
louis vuitton outlet
cheap oakleys
ralph lauren uk
ray ban outlet
gucci handbags
hollister kids
louis vuitton outlet online
michael kors outlet
michael kors handbags
oakley sunglasses

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home