Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be Glad You're in Pittsburgh and Not Somewhere Else

While the rate of job loss in the U.S. worsened again in October for the fourth straight month, the Pittsburgh Region continued to go in the exact opposite direction. Not only does the Pittsburgh Region still have 7,600 more jobs than it did a year ago, that's a higher rate of job growth than the region has experienced all summer.

Although the Pittsburgh Region went into the 2001 recession more slowly than did the U.S., Pittsburgh began losing jobs within two months after the U.S. economy did. In contrast, in 2008, the U.S. economy has been losing jobs for 5 straight months, while the number of jobs in the Pittsburgh Region has been increasing throughout that same time period. (Click on the graphic if you'd like to examine it more closely.)

The fact that total jobs are up here doesn't mean that no one has lost their job; it's clear that underneath the overall growth, some businesses are downsizing or closing while others are growing. Moreover, in some cases, even if jobs haven't been cut, hours may have been reduced, salary increases or bonuses reduced or eliminated, and a greater share of health care costs shifted to employees, making it harder for families to make ends meet.

But those negative effects would be even greater if we had experienced the kind of overall job losses that other regions have. Detroit, for example, has lost over 55,000 jobs in the past year, nearly 3% of its total employment. Relative to other regions, Pittsburgh is doing very well -- it ranked 9th in job growth among the top 40 regions from October 2007 to October 2008.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Re: first chart

While there was 2 months lag between U.S. falling into the negative and Pittsburgh falling into the negative in 2001... there was no lag in the downward trend... which puts that popular media myth about Pittsburgh's economy always taking a couple months longer to follow the nation into recession. The opposite trajectories in 2008 indicate to me that Pittsburgh has developed fundamentals to its economy over the past 5 years that have strengthened it and made it more resistant to national recessionary forces. We'll see...

2. Re: second chart

Compare Pittsburgh to the 8 metros above it... 4 are in Texas... DC benefits from federal government... New Orleans is recovering from hurricane disaster... Virginia Beach is military... and Charlotte has long been an economic superstar. Pittsburgh looks even better when compared to the rather unusual cases above it.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Harold D. Miller said...

Good points, thanks. Charlotte is an interesting case -- its biggest job generator in the past year has been hospitality, followed by education and health care. Our second biggest job generator after education and health care has been professional and business services. Charlotte is also one of the few regions seeing growth in retail jobs, probably related to the tourism business. And they've lost nearly 3,000 manufacturing jobs. So while they've seen more job growth in total than we have, much of it is likely in lower wage jobs.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Steve Mahoney said...

Very insightful observations. Your site is very helpful.

7:38 AM  

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