Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pittsburgh: No longer 'Hell with the lid off'?

Curious nobody has really noticed that we are right now exactly 5 years past the G-20 Summit that was hosted here in Pittsburgh, September 24-25, 2009.  One could argue it was the singular turning point in the perception of Pittsburgh throughout the world.  If you forget the scale of media coverage at the timeliterally around the world, it was a bit crazy. What I noted at the time was how everyone loved to re-use, or rather mis-use the Parton quote, but the point is taken. Seriously, if there was a point in time that so quickly reset the image of any region more comprehensively throughout the world, it is hard to find an example bigger than the G-20's impact on Pittsburgh...  Still, and maybe much more so now after 5 years, worth asking the question: What did Pittsburgh learn from the G-20?

For me looking back, it really is a bit amusing read all the explanations folks give for Pittsburgh's rebirth, if you want to call it that... explanations that followed what was almost universal bashing from the pundits before. Remember Pittsburgh is the place where you want to be at the end of the world, because Pittsburgh only takes up a new idea 25 years after it has been adopted everywhere else... or however that old joke went?   Now, everyone is trying to figure out what we were doing over the last 25 years. Go figure. But the neo-punditry would make you think Pittsburgh hit the big 'easy' button and became a new place overnight.  But even if it took a long time, what were the reasons? Some say robots, others seriously suggest 'karma,' while others stretch pretty far to say it was our 'healthy living,' an explanation that is really about as cogent as saying it was the Fish that Saved Pittsburgh. Everyone has their own answer, which does not help anyone looking to follow our lead.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

52 minus 23 =

The PG has a story on national demographics and the latest factoid of note that the biggest single age cohort in the US is now made up of those 23 years old.  See: Being 23: The meteoric rise of Millennials a powerful force. Sure sounds like the same is true here?

It also says that "The U.S. Census does not break down the number of people by specific ages like its national figures," which is not quite true.  The census itself has no local intercensal estimates is correct, but it certainly had single year of age data from 2010 and that tells a pretty different story for Pittsburgh. The Census Bureau's national age breakdown for 2014 is itself just an estimate, and their are comparable local estimates out there.

In 2010, the single biggest age group in the Pittsburgh MSA was certainly not made up of those 23 years old and it wasn't even close. The biggest age cohort in the Pittsburgh MSA in 2010?  52 years old.  In fact the 5 largest age cohorts in Pittsburgh (the MSA) were ALL in their 50s. The number of 23 year olds is not even close to the number of any of the age cohorts in their 50s.  So a fun story nationally, but not really a local story no matter how you look at the data, almost the opposite.  And no, the last couple years has not seen a complete inversion of those numbers for Pittsburgh MSA. Here is what I see for the 5 largest single year age cohorts here....

Age                    #    
52 39,916
50 38,949
51 38,904
53 38,803
54 37,986

For comparison:
23 29,457

Source: 2010 Decennial Census SF1,  Table QT-P2,  Single Years of Age and Sex: 2010  

Data is sacred they say, but actual digits are pesky. Turns out that among age cohorts before mortality impacts the numbers, say the ages18-60, the number of 23 year olds in Pittsburgh (MSA) is actually one of the smaller cohorts we have here.  Think about that and go re-read the article.

and for those wondering.. not even true in the city of Pittsburgh where the largest age cohort is made up of 19 year olds, most certainly because of the young matriculants at local colleges and universities. 


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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Private Sector Unionization in Pittsburgh

I find it a little curious that given all the coverage of Labor Day in Pittsburgh, nobody has even taken a peek at what the data says specifically about the state of unions locally (I do see J.O. touches upon some state data, but that can be pretty diluted from what is happening here in Pittsburgh.)  The latest data for 2013 shows a pretty remarkable drop in private sector unionization here. See below.

While the data used to calculate that has a fair bit of volatility and sample error, note it is the same data used to calculate the unemployment rate we all over-parse each month. Probably comparable error in the two metrics, so either use them both or discount them both equally. With that caveat, the latest data is showing what has to be a new all-time low in the rate of unionization here, or at least the lowest since the Sons of Vulcan stood up shop here.  Again, given some measurement caveats, it looks like the biggest annual drop in data back to 1986 at least.

I will not be surprised if there is not some reversion in that dip when data for 2014 is calculated. Still, a decade ago I thought stabilization in this time series might lead to an uptick going forward. That looks not to have happened.

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