Saturday, August 18, 2012

To parse

So just to go beyond the headlines a bit looking at some recent news on the state's unemployment rate for July.  Headline is the unemployment rate ticked up 3/10th's of a percent which is not good.  Yet at the same time the labor force increased and is just a blip below its all time high that came in November 2008 before the recession impacts kicked into the labor force stats. 

That is for the state Along with the state data the local data on total nonfarm jobs came out as well. That data showed a decrease in 7,900 jobs for the region between June and July.   Puts us now below the all time employment peak reached last month, but it is the highest job count for a July ever. And yes for those who dispute it, those 'all time' declaratives include the job counts before the steel jobs dropped. 

But looking just at the change from June to July.  A decline.  Bad?  Must be bad right?

Maybe not.  Between June and July the job count in the region always falls mostly as a result of cyclical fluctuations and the end of the school year for many.  So if you go look at how much of a drop is normal this time of year I get this.

So let's sum up.  June total nonfarm jobs for the Pittsburgh MSA were the highest ever recorded.  The drop between June and July is the lowest comparable monthly drop in more than two decades.  What's that all give you?

Well in June the total job count of 1.175 million was just 3,000 over where it was at in that June 2001 bubble going on locally. Not a big delta other than for the symbolism.  For last month (July) the total job count 1.167 million was 13,000 over the next highest June which was also in 2001.  Trend?   and if you ask me what is most interesting to watch is that these all time highs are being reached despite construction employment in the region being at some of its lowest comparable levels in years.  Those missing 5-10K jobs would make those new highs look awfully different if we could add them in.


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