Friday, November 30, 2012

More Ascendant Pittsburgh

I'm going to let Pittsburgh bask in the spotlight a while longer. At Free Exchange (Economist), Ryan Avent touting Texas:

Click on the link to zoom in on the graph. Yes, a bunch of Texas metros sitting at the top for job growth (% change for December 2007 - October 2012). DC and OKC are there, too. Finally, you have Pittsburgh at #5. Forget Pittsburgh (Avent does) and focus on the Texas miracle:

Still, it's worth reflecting on Texas' performance. Energy has something to do with it, of course. So, too, does Texas' relatively stringent mortgage rules, which helped to prevent the wave of bad loans that struck economies in bubble states (like California and Florida) and non-bubble states (like Georgia) alike. I think it's worth emphasising Texas' extraordinary population growth, and the way in which that growth kept the state's economy in a positive output growth equilibrium. Some might complain that not every state can duplicate Texas' success in this fashion; not everyone can prosper by attracting migrants from other parts of the country. That's true. But in a world in which millions of skilled foreigners would love to become American residents, every state can be a little Texas.

Like the Texas Triangle, Pittsburgh has "relatively stringent mortgage rules". Yes, energy has something to do with Pittsburgh's job growth. Extraordinary population growth? No. On that score, Pittsburgh stands out like a sore thumb. The migration dividend is meager. There isn't a natural increase stimulus. The Burgh is the pits when it comes to foreign born. That last sentence isn't true.Regarding "skilled" immigrants, Pittsburgh is awash in quality but not quantity:

The Brookings report noted the "very high concentration of high-skilled immigrants in older industrial metro areas in the Midwest and Northeast such as Albany [N.Y.], Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Syracuse [N.Y.]." The ratio of highly skilled immigrants for Detroit and Milwaukee, other benchmark regions, are equally strong.

As far as economic development is concerned, Pittsburgh is a new demographic paradigm. As the Financial Times argues, the baby boom and the equities boom are joined at the hip. Mexican fertility is projected to drop below that of the United States, which recently hit an historic low. Pittsburgh is ahead of the curve, not behind it.

Texas is where you can still find the old growth model. Meanwhile, tech darlings such as Seattle see the handwriting on the wall:

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith delivered a pep talk followed by an alarm bell during a presentation this morning to Seattle-area technology leaders — saying that the region is second only to Silicon Valley in terms of its technology prowess, but risks following in the path of Detroit and the auto industry if it doesn’t shore up its educational system.

Smith realizes that Seattle needs to get better at talent production, something Pittsburgh excels at doing. Pittsburgh's overall population growth may be small, but the labor force numbers are surging and employees are increasingly college educated. Pittsburgh may not be getting bigger. But it is getting smarter and younger. That's the secret sauce for job growth, ironic demography.


JRoth said...

It's not surprising that Avent ignores Pittsburgh. He's got a massive blind spot about post-industrial cities (he wanted the car companies to go bankrupt so that those poor schmucks in Detroit would finally be forced to go live somewhere decent) and libertarian-ish tendencies that lead to some pretty foolish assumptions and conclusions about urban planning and policies.

Jardinero1 said...

Texas and particularly Houston enjoys a growing manufacturing sector. With regard to the oil sector of Houston, in terms of raw employment numbers, most employment is in refining hydrocarbons into usable products like polymers and gasoline. The other part of the oil sector, locally, consists of the STE part of STEM jobs. Of course Houston has the highest concentration of the M jobs in STEM of any city in the nation.