Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moving To Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh will come out of this recession as a net migration winner. It's been trending that way for a few years. In terms of brain (college graduate) gain migration, that's been the case for quite some time. The handwriting on the wall continues to portend Pittsburgh as a choice destination.

Looking beyond the anecdotes and digging into the data, here is a glimpse of what is going on around the region:

A lower unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily mean that those looking for work were able to find it. It could mean that some became discouraged, stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor pool.

Or it could mean that they were unemployed but hit retirement age, or moved out of the county.

But in this particular case, it appears that the rate dropped because some were able to find new jobs, according to researchers. As evidence, they point to the number of jobs, which grew more than in July. The growth in jobs closely matched the drop in the unemployment rate. At the same time, the labor force grew, too, indicating that people have confidence in the local jobs market and are seeking work here.

That's the current situation for Indiana County. The labor force numbers have remained historically high throughout the recession. At a minimum, people aren't bolting for somewhere else looking for work. I think it indicates the region is transforming into migration magnet.

Something has changed and in a good way. For decades, the default story has been outmigration and shrinking population. For those who put so much stock in the "people vote with their feet" thesis, a growing Pittsburgh will come as quite a shock. That crowd should note that among those with at least a four-year degree, the Steel City has an established appeal. The cranks and cynics chose to overlook that fact.

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