Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When lack of data is data - Coal employment in Pennsylvania

A few months ago I threw up here (Coal dropping even faster than you think) this graphic of the rapid decline in Pennsylvania's coal industry. This was the time series of coal employment in Pennsylvania through the first quarter of this year.

The latest quarter of data is out (for Q2 of 2016).  But as is shown in the graphic below, there is no data being released.  Data is suppressed for confidentiality reasons for a couple of different reasons.  If the number of firms is small, or the concentration of employment in any one firm is so high, then the release of this aggregate data may reveal proprietary data about an individual firm.

So I can't update that graph with the latest employment data, but something must have materially changed from the previous quarter for the routine suppression to kick in. I guess a continuing, but slower decline.... maybe 3% employment loss for the quarter, but I am really interested in the trend for the number of establishments. The decline in number of establishments is being reported for Q2 and is down over 5% over the quarter. At 172 establishments that is probably the lowest count for coal mining establishments in Pennsylvania in the 'modern era'.   For the truly wonky labor analyst/historian out there this is all something new.  Never before has statewide coal mining employment (NAICS 2121) been so small or concentrated to ever require statewide payroll employment data to be suppressed. That right there tells you a lot and is a seminal - if incredibly wonky - point in economic history.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Benchmarking Metro Grantmaking

Just passing this on. I am surprised there is little notice of this locally given how active the local foundation community is.  But recently the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has put together a neat piece of data analysis:  Following the Money: An Analysis of Foundation Grantmaking for Community and EconomicDevelopment.

I admit I have wanted to do some of that type of metro benchmarking on foundation grantmaking, but never got around to it.  Their interactive online data is worth exploring, but is limited to showing only a few areas at the same time.  So I put together their data for the 30 largest MSAs to see how Pittsburgh compares.


Friday, November 04, 2016

Post Soylent Burgh update

I have been conducting a natural experiment of sorts here.   I was wondering if this random corner of the 'Burghosphere (remember that term? Others do) remained quiescent, would others pick up commenting on such obscure things as I have obsessed on here?  The results are mixed, but lean toward no.

So here is one of those stats that is an awfully lot more important than you might think given it has had so little notice.  The latest update (with data for 2015) on natural population change for Pennsylvania municipalities has been available.  Following up on past posts here, this is the trend in births and deaths for City of Pittsburgh residents.

Take for what you want.  The shift back to natural population gains (births > deaths) from natural population decline (deaths > births) happened about a decade ago and continues. In itself that has been a positive for population trends in the city of Pittsburgh, but the scale of  the net gain (births minus deaths) is narrowing. I believe that in the long run city of Pittsburgh population will depend more on migration trends, but still the natural population trends are important.

The trend in number of births to city of Pittsburgh residents continues a slow but steady decline.  Not immensely below where births were a decade ago, before the number bumped up a bit, but not showing any sign of trending up at the very least.  The implications for that number span across things like future school enrollments and projections for the number of families living in the city proper. Also the fact that there has been steady natural population gains is important context for interpreting overall city population trends, which have shown more stability this decade than in decades previous.

Caveats as always. 2015 data is clearly labeled preliminary by the state.  There has been some upward revisions in past preliminary data on births, so the 2015 data may show up as higher in the end.