Thursday, June 23, 2011

Government Jobs Recovery

As I am prone to do, I was just noodling over the latest "MetroMonitor" report (1st quarter of 2011) from Brookings. The findings reveal a Pittsburgh paradox. The region is in the top-20 for overall performance in recession and recovery. However, the metro is in the bottom-20 for recovery performance. What gives?

Apparently, government jobs:

Nearly all the metropolitan areas whose economies suffered the least since the start of the Great Recession had increases in government employment, while most of those that suffered the most lost government jobs. Nineteen of the 20 metropolitan areas that have had the strongest overall economic performance since the start of the recession (all except Augusta) gained government jobs since their periods of peak total employment.

Pittsburgh is one of the places that gained since the start of the recession. Now the puzzler:

Twelve of the 20 that have had the weakest economic recoveries (Allentown, Buffalo, Chicago, Dayton, Detroit, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, and Scranton) lost government jobs since total employment bottomed out.

So, Pittsburgh's recovery (as anemic as it is) hasn't benefited from more government jobs. The kicker:

Twenty large metropolitan areas gained jobs in all of the last four quarters. Austin, Charleston, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Greenville, Hartford, Houston, Milwaukee, New Haven, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Provo, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Toledo, Washington, and Youngstown gained jobs in every quarter from the second quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011.

Of those metros, which ones also saw growth in government jobs during the recovery? Austin, Dallas, Hartford, Houston, and Washington. Perhaps that's neither here nor there for Pittsburgh. I still feel good about the recovery in Southwestern Pennsylvania.


MSL said...

It's apparently been updated since you posted this. Pittsburgh is now in the middle 20 metros for recovery. I wonder what changed.

Jim Russell said...

MSL, thanks for the heads up. Looks like a big chunk of the narrative (analysis) changed as well. The paragraph about the link between government jobs and recovery is gone. It gets recast further on in the report. Even the bit about overall performance and government jobs has been amended.

I guess I better get busy with a post update.