Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Hagiography: Educated (and 'resilient') Pittsburgh

Lots of Bloomberg love of late.  Today read all the Pittsburgh (virtual) ink in: Shortage of Educated Workers Boosts U.S. Joblessness.  Their reporting is mostly on a recent report from Brookings looking at how metro areas are faring.

But note the different tone there than what you read locally about education in the labor force.  Maybe we can explain Pittsburgh's relative performance of late (68 months below the national unemployment rate and now the surge in the size of the region's labor force) with educational attainment.  Remember if you look at the population's educational attainment adjusted for age then Pittsburgh is one of the most educated places in the nation.  If you look at the proportion of workers with a graduate degree, not just a bachelor's degree, then Pittsburgh may at this point be the single most educated metro.  When I looked at it is was far less than measurement error between us and Washington, DC.  

What gets me is that even without doing the age-adjustment we are showing up now as one of the more educated places.  Remember we still have a big concentration of older population and our older generation really did not need post-secondary education for a successful career in the mills.  The common benchmarking for educational attainment is to look at the highest degree awarded for the entire population age 25 and over.  For Pittsburgh, that type of measurement just captures that we are an old region and really pulls down how we come out.  So you get a very different result, at least for Pittsburgh when you focus on those still in the labor force, and in particular the younger workers in the labor force.  That would be a much more significant future indicator.

How much has Pittsburgh changed compared to other regions.  I'll just repost this that says it all a lot more clearly than my explanation:


Anonymous BrianTH said...

And depending on what is really going on with employment and the labor force, this effect could be accelerating.

Indeed, a simple hypothesis would be something like that in light of the relative fortunes of the Pittsburgh economy in recent years, including robust jobs growth in Eds & Meds, Finance, and Professional & Business Services (all WAY outpacing drilling in terms of gross additions, I might note), maybe the gap between the in-migration rate of matriculating students and the out-migration rate of graduating students has widened a bit.

Since that overall flow of students through the region is large and growing itself, even relatively modest changes in the rate at which some stick around could lead to a relatively quick accumulation of new workers. And that would all be pouring straight into the left-most bar on Briem's graph.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:00:00 PM  
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