Visualizing the Lack of Job Growth
The previous post described the region's slow job growth in words. Here it is in graphic form. (The Pittsburgh MSA is in red, the United States is in green).
As the chart shows, at no time in the past 15 years has the Pittsburgh Region been as far below the national growth rate as it has in the past three years (2003-2006). As you can see, throughout the 1990s, job growth in the Pittsburgh Region was steadily improving both in absolute terms and relative to the national rate. During the recession (2001-2003), we also did slightly worse than the U.S. But in the past three years, we've hardly grown at all, while the U.S. returned to its pre-recession growth rate.
Does grouping the growth rates into 2-3 year intervals hide any useful information? No - the same pattern appears if you look at the yearly figures over the past decade. The Pittsburgh Region's growth rate almost matched the U.S. in 2000, and we went into the recession more slowly in 2001. But while the U.S. was growing jobs again in 2004 and 2005, we were still losing jobs, and there has been only a small increase in jobs in 2006.
Have things been getting better more recently? Yes, a little. If you look at the monthly figures, you can see that job growth in the Pittsburgh MSA picked up considerably in the fall. Although that's good news compared to the job losses over the prevous 4 years, the job growth rate over the past six months was still less than half the national average -- well behind the kind of growth we experienced in the late 1990s. At the current job growth rates, it will take us until well into 2008 to get back to the total number of jobs we had in 2001. (Also, it's important to note that the 2006 figures have not yet been benchmarked, and that could lead to changes -- for example, benchmark revisions that were made earlier this year significantly reduced the 2005 job figures over what had been reported previously.)
If you'd like to see the annual changes for the past 16 years, here they are: