Tuesday, April 30, 2013

North Dakota or bust

So what does all the North Dakota oil development have to do with you? More than you know.

I already mentioned a Bureau of Labor Statistics report out on the impact of all the new oil production in North Dakota: Employment and wage changes in oil-producing counties in the Bakken Formation, 2007–2011

But now if you look at photo #1 in the PG's Photo of the Day spread for today April 30 (they don't have hard links for the photos unfortunately, so you may have to look for it) there is a neat photo of a long string of tanker cars moving along a Norfolk Southern line right through the middle of the city. The kid in me remains an observer of trains and I am not sure I am used to seeing so many tanker cars moving through the city in the past. Lots of coal and related products, along with routine freight and occasionally empty auto carriers, but not such an immense number of tankers.

I would speculate that whole string of cars is filled with oil moving directly from North Dakota to the Delta Airlines refinery outside of Philadelphia. This was a refinery that was going to close because it no longer could be profitably using imported oil as inputs that used to come via sea.  The plant was re-engineered to use oil from the ever increasing production in North Dakota when purchased by Delta in a strange move for an airline. Problem is, not pipeline infrastructure to move oil from North Dakota to Philadelphia. Thus the refinery is now dependent on getting its oil via rail... and draw the line between North Dakota and Philadelphia what do you get?   I wonder if Amtrak delays are getting worse?  Who cares right? What's another few hours for an Amtrak trip in Pennsylvania west of Harrisburg.

Speaking of Delta...  Paris direct resumes in a couple weeks (saving Ken the trouble of reminding us).


Pittsburgh underway

Excellent.  Trib today covers the annual ceremony for the SS McKeesport. Those folks look familiar.

I feel obliged to point out Jason T's writeup of the same SS McKeesport a few years ago in the PG. Part of a piece I had on the USS Pittsburgh. Still a great story there.  They also named the hurricane sheared bow of the USS Pittsburgh as the USS McKeesport.

Worth mentioning is the memorial for Navy veteran Alan Wood who passed away last week in California. The PG ran the LATimes obituary the other day. While the news is about a small snippet of history; then Ensign (I am assuming) Wood merely provided the flag that was later planted on to of Mount Suribachi in the Battle for Iwo Jima. One might forget that before any of those events could happen, his ship had to beach itself under fire on occupied Iwo Jima.  The Battle of Iwo Jima had, at least officially, 6,800 KIA.  A 5-week long battle with more US combat deaths than our entire involvement in Afghanistan.

Obligatory Pittsburgh connection. His ship, LST-779 was built right here on Neville Island. 


Compare and contrast

The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a report recently: Employment and wage changes in oil-producing counties in the Bakken Formation, 2007–2011

Worth a read, and worth doing a compare and contrast with some areas I hear have shale gas development in the east. I really don't think anyone has done an analysis like that which I find odd given all the interest.

and out just now, Pittsburgh MSA unemployment rate for March at 7.3%, down 2/10ths of a percent from a revised February number. Thing to watch is that the region's remarkable run of strong labor force growth looks to be slowing, at least with the preliminary data today.  We'll see.


Monday, April 29, 2013

How does a cartoonist give a speech?

With a cartoon of course.  PG's Rob Rogers on winning the Overseas Press Club Thomas Nast Award:

BTW...  I swear his iconic 'editor' silhouette is someone many of us know well.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tech ball

As the NFL draft winds down, its is worth noting Steelers' history even intersects with Pittsburgh's tech transformation.

In the 1970s the Steelers were one of the first teams to implement computer based draft analysis through the BLESTO scouting service.Some of the minimal documented history of the experience comes from Art Rooney Jr's memoir: Ruanaidh - The Story of Art Rooney and His Clan.  Billy Beane was still in his teens.

If you read that snippet you will see mention of a commercial for the Sperry Rand corporation,  which made the computers BLESTO used for its newfangled system, that played off a Pittsburgh theme.  No known video of said commercial is findable these days.  Anyone have any clues where it could be found?

I actually think it is a deeper story that really gets to the importance of human capital in technology development.  I speculate the use of computers at BLESTO came from the computer expertise that existed here because places like U.S. Steel were some of the first commercial customers of the first UNIVAC computers decades earlier. 


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Racial Segregation in Pittsburgh

Behind in my professional reading so I have to admit I got this from Business Insider's story today on some research out of Florida State University looking at racial segregation in US cities. We apparently rank 4th in some new ranking. (update: it's a weird ranking. Pittsburgh is the 4th least segregated, but among the 21 most segregated places. A bit counterintuitive)

Below their map of Pittsburgh showing racial segregation in Pittsburgh.  Note we have our own interactive version of the same data. Also, I made a video of sorts showing the changes in Allegheny County since 1940.


Fractured numbers

Just a refinement on a graph I put up the other day.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It will be different this time

A debate I get caught up in at this point in most all election cycles is over whether 'young people' are going to make a difference in the upcoming election. Whatever election it is at the time. The idea that 'this election' is different always pops up. The argument is that there is some big surge in youth registration or enthusiasm which will translate into voter turnout. It is rarely even remotely true. People have been getting mad at me ever since I once asked if Young Voter is an oxymoron?  With the possible exception of the overinterpreted 2008 general election, there has been little variation in the story for all local elections, and certainly not in any local primary in recent memory.

So will this election coming up prove the exception?  If so, the first place you would expect to see evidence is in new voter registrations.  Looking at the state's voter registration data, here is what I see for new Democratic party registrations by week since the beginning of the year. Note that the total number of registration is much higher than this time series, but the majority of new registrations are without party affiliation, likely because many new registrations happen as part of motor voter or other administrative procedures, not because someone is going out of their way to register to vote. But for Allegheny County the official counts right now are as follows:

Add it up if you like. Since January there have been a total of 2,996 new Democratic Party registrations in all of Allegheny County. That's it.  IF they were all in the city of Pittsburgh and IF all of them vote next month, the new registrations  will likely be 5-6%  of all votes expected to be cast in the upcoming mayoral race in the City of Pittsburgh. More likely half or less of all those new registrations are in the city proper and assuming a quarter of them show up to vote then new registrations add up to 3-400 votes, so back of the envelope let's say maybe 0.7% of all votes expected to be cast. Assume the new registrants vote heavily for one candidate over others... say 75-25. It means the impact on the result is maybe a 0.35% swing.

Maybe I am underestimating? The registration deadline was Monday. Possibly a few last minute new registrations will show up in the data and push those numbers higher, but by how much?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Wired has: Internet Archaeology: Behold the Most Hilarious Abandoned Websites

We really need some serious crowdsourcing here.  What are the local abandoned web sites of note in Pittsburgh.  I've mentioned before, but my contribution is again the Netscape 3.0 optimized web site for Three Rivers Stadium.

There must be others out there?

Extra points for political sites overcome by events that are still up and running (last 6 months excluded).   and no... the Internet Archive does not count, maybe we'll have a future post on that.  Only currently IP active sites. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Unmentionable time series

Are there any chartists out there any longer?  What is that? Double top? Double yoi!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

333 miles or bust

More and more news coverage of the impending completion of the Great Allegheny Passage.  Kudos to the folks who have been working for years now to complete the unfinished segment. Lots of folks working on this over the years, but I think some unheralded folks in Allegheny County gov't have been working hard to deal with the seemingly intractable path through Sandcastle. Years ago I even wondered whether we would have to resort to building a causeway around the park. And I suppose my idea of renaming the Hot Metal Bridge remains a nonstarter.

Now you have no excuse, and believe me if I can do this so can you.  Washington, DC awaits. Only 333 miles of peddling and you can be in Georgetown. I'll add that the more miles I complete, the more in awe I am of Pittsburgher (Bloomfielder in part) Frank Lenz. It was 98 years ago today that a letter made it back to Pittsburgh confirming Lenz's presumed murder the year earlier somewhere in Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey) after he had biked westward around most of the planet.

If you need more motivation:


Friday, April 19, 2013

June 2, 1919


Billion here, billion there

Reading PBT: Report: PA stands to gain $5 billion

If you doubt the number, here is something to ponder. Just for the Pittsburgh MSA here is the time series just for Medical Transfer Payments annually since 1970. The total number went over $10 billion annually for the first time in 2011. So yes, probably a lot of $$ being left on the table by Pennsylvania skipping this potential Medicaid expansion.

Medical transfer payments are not even all health care, just that publicly funded to include Medicare, public assistance, which includes Medicaid and some military retirement benefits. 

Yes, those are nominal numbers.  When I get time I will append an inflation adjusted graph below. Does not really change the trend all that much.


More Migration

So part of me thought that the lack lack of attention to the U-Haul report out last week was a sign we had finally realized that it was no longer news that migration flows were net positive into Pittsburgh. Maybe not and the PG noted the factoid. U-Haul survey suggests young are moving to Pittsburgh. I also see the PBT mentioned it the other day.  What I am confused by a bit, is long before U-Haul put out their report which benchmarks 2012 data, it also looks like the dean of local real estate reporting, Sam Spatter, mentioned the 2012 U-Haul data specifically last month... again even though there was no U-Haul report released yet??? He quoted the exact number even???

BTW, and I realize some may not appreciate the semantics, but the U-Haul data is not survey based at all. Their documentation is a bit lacking, probably because it is pretty straighforward.  It appears to be a complete enumeration of their own records, not a sample of any other data.  Makes a difference in interpreting it. Certainly no sample error.

Anyway. I still to this day get people disputing me that migration flows are not all negative for Pittsburgh. If I do convince them, the argument is that it is all anomalous. Just a variation of nabobism. Is it all a big anomaly?

Total net migration appears to have been positive now for 5 straight years, 2007-2012.  I suppose there is a bit of a judgement call in how to characterize that, but 5 years does not make for an anomaly.  There is something else. Pittsburgh itself has not moved.  Nothing we can do about the weather for example.  There are migration flows of younger folks, and there are migration flows of older folks. There should be little doubt that migration flows of the older population are still net out of the region as folks typically retire to points South and West. Elderly migration flows are pretty consistent over time. That has not changed. The total migration flow for the region include all ages, including the older migration flows that likely continue to be net out.

So while it is hard to measure annually, I personally believe that the net migration flows for the population say under 50 turned had to have turned positive at least a couple years before the total net migration flow turned positive. That puts us near 2005 or so. We are not up to a decade yet, but getting there. Not only is it not a new story that young people are not 'fleeing' (used to always be the verb of choice) but it has really not been an issue at all for quite some number of years. Given another fact that net migration for Pittsburgh remained palpably negative through the 1990s, the shift from net out toward net in happened early in the 21st century. 

Back to the U-Haul report.  In itself old news sort of, and the Census population numbers were covered last month in their own news cycle.  All of these data points fall in on themselves.  The only value added from the U-Haul report for me is confirmation the trend has not changed.  If anything the trend for net in-migration might even be accelerating.  We never ranked number 1 on the U-Haul report in the past, so 2012 is better than previous years for us.  Really, we were pretty far ahead of the #2 region in their one metric that I think represents net migration rate. I am still pondering that some. Also, the census estimates reported on last month were technically based on migration flows through the middle of 2012, literally only to July 1.  So the U-Haul data appears to cover calendar year 2012.  I will base a large bet that we are currently almost done with the 6th year of net in-migration as will be reported on by the Census estimates next year. So the generation of young people not watching their classmates flee will be entering 1st grade soon.  They are going to be a confused bunch at this rate.

.... and we will learn a bit more of the trends later today when March nonfarm jobs data for the Pittsburgh MSA comes out.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Why I Moved to Pittsburgh"

Business Insider: Why I Moved To Pittsburgh — The City That Americans Are Flocking To Faster Than Anywhere Else. http://www.businessinsider.com/oil-is-driving-migration-to-pittsburgh-2013-4

I leave for the crowd to parse. I will note that it appears as if they changed the title.

Also, it appears to be a daily double hagiography kind of day.  A new video from Kaufmann Foundation is out (or about to come out) all about the role of entrepreneurship on Pittsburgh's economy. http://www.entrepreneurship.org/en/ID8/Pittsburgh.aspx

What would Ben Chinitz say?


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marty McFly arrives on Pittsburgh Day

So I forgot to mention this Friday, but friend to the bloghosphere @btoland_pg has been promoting April 12 as International Pittsburgh Day.  4-12.  Get it?  So I added the 'International' prénom, but it fits because the idea this is a diaspora thing really.  Every first or multiple generation Pittsburgh diasoran out there should do a Pittsburgh that day. Whatever they want. So let's start planning for next year. Maybe we could fund a prize even.

What else is April 12? It is also the day Marty McFly arrived in the future. From 1985 no less.  I really do believe that if you took a lot of folks in Pittsburgh in 1985 and zapped them out to Pittsburgh of today, they would be just as befudded as Marty was getting out of the DeLorean. I'll just leave it at that.

It did just exude steel though. Next best thing to a car made out of Corten.

So, don't believe all you read. I saw that Back to the future pic and didn't really think about it.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happy Qube Day!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Voting with their feet - Everyone's moving to Pittsburgh

For today we will just crib from Jim Russell @burghdiaspora for this comment on the latest data dump from the mover czars.  U-Haul says, literally, U-Haul Ranks Pittsburgh as 2012 Top U.S. Growth City. You can read more of Jim's thoughts on the data: Pittsburgh and Migration Mesofacts.

So whatever the positive migration trends already in evidence, it seems like the ground truth trends are only accelerating.  I mean, U-Haul is about as close to primary data as it gets with regards to migration. 

So I know the nabobs are still out there, but eventually the data points add up. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Downtown is dead, long live Downtown

So various stories on the state of Downtown Pittsburgh of late. PG today: Upheaval and losses hurt, but Downtown Pittsburgh emerged from economic turmoil renewed, and the Trib a few days ago: Downtown home to younger, wealthier residents, study finds. Note my comment in the latter about the role of college students living Downtown. I do believe that over the last decade a slim majority of the increase in actual Downtown residents has been college students, something that kind of gets lost in the talk.

But how is Downtown doing? There are really two Downtown issues.  How is Downtown doing as a place to work, and as a place to live.  Beyond the headlines there is a simple truth that the number of people actually working Downtown has remained, through good times and bad, one of the most stable trends around.  Much the same number of people work Downtown as did a decade ago, or 5 decades ago. What is amazing is that how much sentiment changes.  Years ago I had to point out the obvious when I wrote Downtown isn't dying, despite nearly universal prognostication to the contrary. The only parsing of that is that the former concentration of jobs in 3 major department stores is gone, decreasing some of the lower paying jobs, but the average and total payroll of jobs Downtown has been trending upwards.

How about Pittsburgh as a place to live?  Now things get complicated. Here are two stories running last month that reference the same exact data point: the population trend in Downtown Pittsburgh. Yet somehow the exact same reference point has two extremely different 'facts' for what nominally should be pretty straightforward. So take the Detroit Free Press and its story mostly on Detroit obviously: Downtown Detroit has more wealth, diversity than city as whole, report says, but take this dour (for us) graphic that ran with it:

So that says Downtown Pittsburgh is down 27% over the last decade. Now take the Trib's story over the around that time looks at all the new folks living Downtown: Downtown Pittsburgh undergoes retail, residential rebirth. That story says the 2010 Census has  7,796 people living Downtown.  To get anywhere near that number with 2010 Census data you have to have a pretty big definition of Downtown. Downtown as it has been defined by the city for a century has half that population in the 2010 Census.  It also says the number is UP 21% from 2000. Technically speaking, the census count of Downtown residents went down from 2000 to 2010, but that is all wrong as well. 

Why is it so hard to get a count of Downtown residents?  Which story is right?  Downtown population up or down?  The answers are: counting is not as simple as it seems, neither, and yes.

More seriously, the first answer explaining all this is just sheer geography.  What your definition of 'Downtown' can give you most any answer you want to hear. Lot's of inconsistent definitions of what 'Downtown' is floating out there, and there are different numbers associated with each different definition.  But that is the starting point.

I hate to mention again, but I use this example fairly often as a teaching point as well as here. Below is a page 1 story from March 2001 about all the new Downtown residents the decenial census just said had moved in since 1990.

Of course, it just was not true one iota. Remember this is a story from over a decade ago talking about all the residential growth over the previous decade. There were two big things wrong.  The article had all sorts of great quotes about all the new young faces people saw living Downtown and why they all were moving there for the amenities Downtown.  It actually was true there were more young people.  Some may recall that the Allegheny County Jail downtown was rebuilt between 1990 and 2000. It also was expanded from around 1,200 to 2,500 capacity at the same time and was pretty full by the time the 2000 census came around.  The 'increase' in Downtown's population over the decade matched exactly the increase in the jail's population, which is pretty much entirely a young adult population. (just say no to BGB joke that would flow in right here) No joke, and not mentioned in the story anywhere. Story was all vapor. 
But there was another error in the 2000 census data for Downtown.  The new jail is actually not Downtown, but in a Census tract part of the Uptown/Bluff neighborhood. The census gnomes didn't catch the fact that the jail moved and so the whole population of the jail shows up in the wrong location. That only gets fixed in the 2010 Census counts. Screws up all sorts of analysis if you are trying to figure out trends.  That Detroit Free Press article and the 27% decline in Downtown's population?  Entirely an artifact of the census correcting the mistake dating back to the 1990s of the jail relocating into a neighborhing census tract, and thus creating the nominal population decrease.
So I once tried to sort this out and get a reference number for the change in Downtown's population.  If you want to go through it what I came up with is online here.  I had come up with 1,100 new Downtown residents over the decade, about 374 of which are net new college students in dorms.
But that is wrong as well. In data that has come out since then, it turns out my previous calculation is incorrect because of yet another bad datapoint in the census data for Downtown's population.  It turns out that the 2010 Census data missed a big new dorm that the Art Institute built Downtown over the previous decade. The uncounted dorm has had secondary impacts on other data. Basically the inclusion of dorm's population in the 2011 population estimates for the first time (even though it was occupied years earlier) is pretty much the entire reason there appears to be an increase in the entire City of Pittsburgh population between 2010 and  2011
What does it all mean? A few things.  Are there more non-institutionalized people living Downtown? For sure there are given the new condos and apartments that have gone in over the last decade. If you are really talking about Downtown (not the Strip, not the North Shore...etc), what I now think is the case is that the majority of the net new residents are college students. That gets infinitely less press than the nominal new residents of condos and apartments Downtown, even though I think there really are more college students. Another question I have is whether the 'occupied' condos Downtown are really occupied.  To be counted as a resident, at least in the census, you only get counted at the place of your primary residence.  Seems to me a lot of population counts Downtown.  Lots of what I read makes me think a lot of condos are bought by some fairly well off Pittsburgh expatriates looking for a stake in their hometown.   I wonder how many folks are really full year residents?


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Casino not going to help much

I know it seems far away, but this is big news even here.  Up in Erie the GE locomotive factory is cutting back by 1,000 jobs.  Bad enough, but the jobs are not just scaling down, but moving to Texas. Strong implications are that more of the Erie jobs will soon be migrating, with or without their workers.

How big a deal?  News accounts say the Erie plant has 6-7K Jobs.  For a metro region with 127K jobs, just under 23K of them in manufactuting, the potential loss of 6K jobs (only IF the whole plant goes away) is huge. The one plant represents a quarter of all manufacuting jobs in the Erie metro, which I think is just one county.

Not good.  Just 2 hours up 79. If any of those 'manufacturing is coming back' billboards is up near Erie, can someone post a picture?


Monday, April 08, 2013

What is missing in this map?

Via XKCD and the NS peanut gallery........

btw... XKCD had a shout out to CMU a few days ago.


Friday, April 05, 2013

Random bits

PG's Pipeline catches a news item sent via Minitel from France and debates over fracking for geothermal. See: Le Fracking for Geothermal Heat Drawing Ire of French Oil.  It could be a local story as well.  I think I mentioned once that this all could become an issue not terribly far from here where a geothermal hotspot is located in West Virginia. Something that if developed would likely be with fracking as well. (I keep forgetting, do I use the k or not?)

Uber wonk only daily ranking.  Pittsburgh ranks 34 of 51 among regions for accessibility of jobs by car via this report out of the University of Minnesota: Access Across America

Just for nostalgia at this point, but some interesting USAirways news out today: US Airways reports record March load factor  and Demand Questions Surface in Delta, US Airways Reports

and some may remember my book review in the CP a few years ago on The Lost Cyclist by David Herihy.  From the agenda it looks like the author is coming to the Pittsburgh Bicycling Expo on Sunday on the South Side. Still a lot of neat Pittsburgh history in the story, even before the (presumed) tragic end.  I am not sure it is terribly safe to bicycle across Kurdistan today where it is presumed.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pittsburgh's Paleofuture Politics

Anyway, mostly for filler today is me cleaning my office and this 1937 undergraduate thesis "The Metropolitan Plan for Pittsburgh - Allegheny County".   Chapter 1 is titled "Discovered: Possibilities for a Greater Pittsburgh". 

Kind of fun reading during a mayoral race 75 years later.


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Post Soylent Pittsburgh redux

Twitter followers already saw I caught a news snippet out of Rhode Island of a family that has moved to Pittsburgh (via Tampa) for what sounds like economic reasons, as indeed what most motivates most migration across the nation. Yes people moving into Pittsburgh. So why do I care?

News out yesterday, but into ink today is latest labor force stats on the Pittsburgh MSA.  Now I suggest you take a close look at the graphic the PG has of county-level unemployment data and compare to what the 'same' data is for the region (MSA unemployment rate of 7.4%).   I have a explanation for the discrepancy you may note, but it is even too wonkish to go into here.  So really painfully technical and if you want more the answer starts with this old post.  Still, the county-level numbers for the region are even in aggregate far more positive than the msa level data.  Funny that.

But looking more at the trend. We do tend to miss the forest for the trees when obsessing on the latest monthly labor force stats each month. Often preliminary and prone to all sorts of estimation variability.  Here is what most interests me.  This is a graphic of the year over year change in the Pittsburgh region's labor force calculated monthly. Of note, the last few months have seen greater jumps than recorded over the last decade and the trend does not seem to be abating.

Various folks like to pundificate that the change in the labor force month over month, even year over year is all about folks moving in and out of the labor force.  Former workers becoming discouraged.  Former discouraged workers starting to look for work again and innumerable other flows like that.  While that really has to be the reason explaining short term variability in national labor force changes, at a regional level there is usually a bigger factor in the long run.  People move.  Nationally, the labor force is impacted by migration, but by definition international immigration which can be significant, but still pales in comparison to the flows of folks between regions within the country. That is especially true for places like Pittsburgh with such low rates of international immigration. (yes, still low). 
So sure, part of the answer is an increase in local labor force participation (LFP), but why we ignore the migration angle is curious.  Even the labor force participation story is quite a story.  If the local jump in the size of the labor force is entirely due to increasing labor force participation among the population here, then you have to ask yourself why our LFP is jumping up while national LFP is still trending down. Either way, there are stories to be told here.
If thinking in the deltas is not quite clear.  Here is just the graph of the Pittsburgh region's labor force over the last 40+ years. Note recent trends. Lots of economic history embedded in one picture:


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Pittsburgh Pastry Perfect

What is is with Pittsburgh and pastries? I'm serious.

Where else do thousands of people line up Soviet style for free cakes... and where else in the world would someone go to the effort of stealing free cakes.

Does not end there of course.  Remember back in the days of Twinkies, Pittsburgh was once the Ho Ho Capital of the world. Literally the global #1.  Even if the numbers didn't add up, the point is that nobody here ever questioned the magnitude.

or let's talk about The Cookie Table. Just another tradition that Pittsburgh has no particular uniqueness? Even Wikipedia explains "it is basically a Pittsburgh tradition."  Yes, Cookie Table has a Wikipedia page.
politics? Local A listers may skip the Pennsylvania Society Dinner in NYC, but would not be caught ashore when the Cookie Cruise shifts colors.

Some hard core readers here may recall when the question of what Custard is once utterly confounded our friend Mike M.   Flavored butter cream?? Hmmff!

Then there are the Cupcakes. I think some have forgotten already the scale of the late in coming cupcake craze in Pittsburgh. Long gone in a sense; can't get the pomegranate tea cupcake anywhere these days.   No, of course cupcakes are neither a Pittsburghism, nor are we any hot spot on the cutting edge of cupcakedom.  But remember when the mere hint that Pittsburgh was catching up to the wave of retro cupcake appreciation set off waves of a media frenzy; only in Pittsburgh did the cupcake phenomenon get raised to anexistential issue, to the point of becoming nonsensical. We really want to be cool, we really do.

The funniest pastry story however is what few remember of the great East Liberty resurgence.  Ready for this.  The original plan for the Eastside Whole Food development was that it would be paired with a Krispy Kreme. I do not make this stuff up!  Only in Pittsburgh.  Even if it didn't happen in the end.
But did we ever get the 105 Dunkin Donuts we were supposed to get?  I really do need to update my metric of bakeries per capita.

and if you ask me: http://www.paddycakebakery.org/

Ok.. got that out of me.


Monday, April 01, 2013

Sic Semper Cupcake, n'at

Just because I realize it is April 1, a blast from the past and Cupcake Econometrics 101.

There were at least a few folks out there who thought that was serious.  But I guess it was. Oh, for the days before the G-20 when Pittsburgh was so desperate for signs of change that we took our pastries a bit too serious.


Manufacturing is dead, long live manufacturing!

So here are two very different perspectives on the very same topic.

The PG has the story folks like to hear: Heard Off the Street: Report optimistic on comeback of manufacturing in economy

Yet last week there was this in the WashPo's WonkBlog: Goldman Sachs: Sorry, U.S. manufacturing isn’t coming back

Which version to believe?  The two stories are pretty much saying the exact opposite, at least when it comes to employment.  Which version has more data backing it up?  If you want to dig into it further, the WashPo added the sobering graphic: This chart will change how you think about manufacturing. Even the WSJ today seems to be coming down on the nabob side: Signs of Factory Revival Hard to Spot.

The only thing I will add is that no matter what happens across the nation, it is even more problematic to be projecting a lot of employment growth in manufacturing sectors locally. The industries we are most likely to ever see much rebound in are industries that are so productive that there just can't be large employment numbers generated.  Then remember all the prognostications of all the pipe manufacturing that shale development was going to bring to the region.  Well, of late that trend in Pittsburgh is working in reverse at best. Seriously, as much as some headlines feel like blasts from the past these are not headlines from 30 years ago

Yes, there are some positive stories such as the note today about 11 new steel jobs in Cecil. Think about what it means that 11 new steel jobs are considered newsworthy in Pittsburgh! Note the bigger local employment gains mentioned in that story are pretty far afield from heavy industry. As for other secondary impacts everyone is sure will be located here, you get a very different picture of where that development is likely to occur by reading the news(point for referencing the Graduate).