Friday, March 13, 2009

Treading Water in the Shallow End of the Pool

The latest data on jobs in the Pittsburgh Region were released this week, and although the news isn't good, it's a lot better than in most parts of the country.
Between January 2008 and January 2009, the Pittsburgh Region had lost a net total of 8,600 jobs, or a little less than 8/10 of 1% of the total jobs in the region. That's a lot of jobs, but far less than most regions. By way of comparison, the three major metro areas in Ohio have lost between 2 and 5 times as many jobs -- Columbus has lost almost 19,000 jobs, Cincinnati has lost over 24,000 jobs, and Cleveland has lost a whopping 44,000 jobs in the past year.

The only large regions that have done better than Pittsburgh in the past year are the metro areas in Texas (Austin, Houston, and San Antonio all actually had more jobs in January than they did a year earlier), Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, and New Orleans. (New Orleans isn't really growing, it's just slowly recovering from the devastating job losses after Hurricane Katrina.)

Underneath our relatively small total net job loss are some significant increases and decreases by industry. Thousands of jobs added in health care, higher education, and local government over the past year have been helping to offset over ten thousand jobs lost in retail, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and several other sectors.

In most cases, the pattern of job gains and job losses here is similar to the rest of the country, but better. For example, education and health services added jobs in every major region of the country, even regions like Detroit and Phoenix that have each experienced total net losses of over 100,000 jobs. Every region but Houston lost manufacturing jobs; Pittsburgh's loss of 3,200 manufacturing jobs was actually the 6th smallest loss in percentage terms among the top 40 regions.

The one sector that has been suffering disproportionately in Pittsburgh is leisure and hospitality; we've lost 4,600 jobs in that sector (4.6% of the total), the 5th biggest reduction among the top 40 regions. Although part of this has been in the hotel and restaurant sector, the bulk has been in arts and entertainment. Unfortunately, the data available aren't detailed enough to understand exactly which organizations and which kinds of jobs are being lost.


Blogger kight said...

I am a native of New Orleans and my son went to Carnegie Mellon and remained in Pittsburgh for a few years afterwards.

You are right about New Orleans not really growing. We are down 70,000 job from pre-Katrina.

In conversations about turning New Orleans around, I sometimes use Pittsburgh as an example of a city that has done a lot of right things to turn the city around and still cannot.

New Orleans as a city does everything wrong although there are a couple of bright spots in the region.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Worth noting is that Pittsburgh's year-over-year job loss % for Jan 2009 is actually a .015% improvement over December's %... the first improvement for the MSA since July 2008. This is in contrast to Ohio's Big 3, whose declines accelerated (a pattern apparent virtually everywhere, I assume).

2. Interesting to see how Charlotte's economy has really tanked quickly. Early in the national economic downtown, Charlotte's growth rate was similar to PGH... looks like the demise of Wachovia and the shakiness of BoA has really taken its toll there. Indy and Columbus are two other metros that were close to PGH's performance recently that have experienced dramatic declines.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Harold D. Miller said...

The year-over-year job loss for January was indeed smaller than December, but it's not clear that that really signals any improvement. Total jobs are much smaller in January than in December -- that's true every year, due to seasonal effects, particularly in retail -- and so the smaller loss could be just an artifact of that. I haven't compared the December and January drops on a sector-by-sector basis to know for sure.

8:27 PM  

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