Friday, April 04, 2014

ObjectIndustry permanence?

I am really unclear if this is a news article or a press release of some kind. But from just a couple weeks ago via CNBC was this headline: US manufacturing is coming back—Thank shale

Now mind you, I have no comment on whether that headline is valid or not for the nation.  But I do note that it has little to do with anything in Pittsburgh. With  data for February now out, the decline in regional manufacturing employment is, if anything, accelerating. The year over year drop in manufacturing employment (-3.1%) is a lot worse even than what I pointed out just last month when manufacturing was the worst performing sector of the regional economy. Note also that what had been a running year over year decline in eds and meds employment has gone away. Has not trended back to growth yet, but absolutely even employment in February compared to year prior.We will have to see what that trend holds in the future.

BTW, while I have no comment on the national trends, the Wall Street Journals certainly does and note their recent list of the 5 things we learned from the economic census. Just don't stop reading after #1 as many are wont to do.

Put another way, the proportion of regional jobs in Pittsburgh that are at manufacturing industries has now dropped to near its all-time low. The manufacturing job count in Pittsburgh has given back virtually all of the bounceback that came after the Great Recession ended. Wasn't there talk of 'reindustrializing' (if that is a word) Pennsylvania. I am pretty sure the various marketing campaigns out there have swamped any news coverage (to say nothing of all the data) on the topic.

If that is not clear enough, I have not yet begun to parse! Here is the proportion of national manufacturing jobs that are located in Pittsburgh. Never has such an unvarying trend said so much. You rarely can find an economic trend that appears so stable.

But the stability may be a bit illusory, at least for the future.  With full disclosure, this is taking the same exact data but way blowing up the scale.  How is Pittsburgh doing in recent months? In recent years? Coming back?

So maybe it is more like the inverse of object permanence? Is there a name for that?


Anonymous The Wiz said...

Is it possible that not all manufacturing jobs are related to the nat gas industry? Perhaps some are coal related, maybe auto, or durable goods. So would it be possible for nat gas related manufacturing jobs to be increasing while other non-related jobs are in decline? Not saying thats the case but some more parsing would be necessary before declaring nat gas a job-generating flop.

The Portersville Valve Co merged with a Houston Firm and is building a new facility and will hire 45 people. Flowline hired 35. A company bought a warehouse in Sharon and will end up with 125 employees building sound-deadening compressor housing. Small change I know but that is just in my area.

Friday, April 04, 2014 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I did not understand that the claim that manufacturing is coming back only applies to a small subset of the industry.

However, given that manufacturing employment has been up in Detroit over the last 4 years, I don't think that can explain the recent drop in local manufacturing employment.

Speaking of energy... you didn't mention nuclear. What has been the impact of natural gas on local nuclear power industry which is as concentrated in Pittsburgh as anywhere.

Sunday, April 06, 2014 8:57:00 PM  
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