Saturday, August 27, 2011

Positive Migration Pittsburgh And Shrinking Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C., has a success story in Red Ventures, an Internet marketing firm that will add 500 jobs by year's end. But the firm's growth is overshadowed by the downsizing in Charlotte's signature industry, banking.

Home to Bank of America, the city suffered when the housing collapse rippled through the financial sector. Some 4,000 banking jobs have disappeared since 2007, and the story isn't over: Bank of America just announced 3,500 more layoffs, although it didn't say where they'll occur.

Bottom line: Charlotte unemployment is pinned at 11.2 percent.

<------------------End Update------------------>

Pittsburgh is up and Charlotte is down. That's a reversal of this trend:

The Nielsen Co. released its list of television market ranks for 2011, and Pittsburgh will fall from No. 23 to No. 24 next year. That's not surprising because of the market that surpassed Pittsburgh: Charlotte, N.C., a city growing faster than Pittsburgh.

Year to year, the number of television households in Pittsburgh grew from 1,154,950 to 1,160,820, an increase of 5,870 homes. Charlotte grew by 18,270 homes to surpass Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's declining market rank has been under way for decades. In 1998, Pittsburgh was market No. 19. By 2008, Pittsburgh had fallen to No. 23.

That's THE Pittsburgh story, right? Everybody is leaving for Charlotte. A Tweet last Thursday (from KDKA's Mike Zappone):

Pittsburgh leaped over Charlotte. Our area gained over 11,000 households in last year. Charlotte lost over 26,000 households acc. to neilson

Honestly, the drop in Charlotte is the big surprise. That's a huge swing from the last round of television market rankings. In case you are doubting Zappone, I gather that Nielsen issued a press release that will likely show up in the local papers soon enough.

I don't know much about the Nielsen data. Take the trend to the bank (i.e. declining for decades) and keep in mind that Charlotte's shrinking household numbers are mostly to blame. Two regional economies are going in different directions, but not the way anyone would expect.


rootvg said...

I was in the Charlotte airport several months ago to connect for a flight to Cleveland and it sure didn't look dead to me.

The hot place for relocations right now is Dallas and to a lesser extent Atlanta. My cousin has been an engineer for years and finally gave up several months ago on trying to keep his family in Pennsylvania where he was raised. He accepted the job in Atlanta, bought a brand new home in the outer burbs, etc...same old story, same thing that happened to my wife and I fifteen years ago. We took off like fighter jets and never looked back.

Everyone knows what's wrong with the Rust Belt. Certain people won't get out of the way and for political reasons can't be pushed out of the way. That's all there is to it.

Jim Russell said...


What are you hearing about Atlanta? From 10 miles up (and hundreds of miles away), the numbers look bad.

DBR96A said...

I live near Atlanta, and I can tell you that population growth has far outstripped job and income growth in the last 10 years. Perhaps this is the result of 30+ years of self-marketing: now that Atlanta's economy is slowing down, the population continues to grow because everybody still thinks that it's a hot spot for jobs like it was in the 1980's and 1990's.

By the way, Atlanta's commercial real estate market is severely overbuilt. The region could go for another decade without building another shopping plaza and there'd still be vacancies. Construction jobs ain't coming back to Atlanta for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Something to keep in mind and this isn't unique to Atlanta (or Dallas) is that some see some affordable suburbs where they can live when they find opportunities in these cities, but the these cities have endless land to sprawl. In theory so does Pittsburgh too, but not really. While Atlanta isn't flat, it's flat enough (until you get into the northern fringes) and obviously the Texas cities are, among other places. The price in commuting is a lot though.

As someone who has lived in Atlanta for several years (from Pgh), I can see as a whole NC, is a better place than the rest of the south. That might be because it has almost as many people as GA (and will likely surpass it soon) but has 3 well above million people metros (with Charlotte pushing 2 million), so it's not the state against Atlanta mentality that is in GA. That plus NC clearly invests in higher education more than GA. And even it's small cities like Asheville and Wilmington attract a broader than regional population.

Charlotte is hurting no doubt, but even Houston had some struggling years a few decades ago. That doesn't mean it's destined to thrive, but it has enough going on that it will do alright in the long run.

However the changes noted with the great recession are significant and fortunately have really played out well for Pittsburgh. I hope that as the economy improves that Pittsburgh as some real inertia and that this is not the early/mid 90s replayed that when the economy took off, so did the out migration.


rootvg said...

Jim, my cousin (mechanical engineer) just got a job there and loves it. Company bought his house, moved his family...the works, same thing that happened to me fifteen years ago when I took a transfer to Dallas. He tried to stay in Pennsylvania but couldn't.

My understanding is if you have in demand skills, the official unemployment rate doesn't mean much. IT, engineering and allied health sciences are on that list. I have a somewhat narrow skill set but even so I'm starting to get strange calls from Silicon Valley recruiters who are essentially throwing stuff at the walls because the talent is drying up.

We looked at Virginia about ten years ago but by then we were being pulled west and I had already worked out here once.