Equally disturbing is that Pittsburgh was one of two metro areas highlighted in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May press release as having the largest increase in unemployment year-over-year, surpassed only by Houston. Maybe because both are overly energy dependent? Houston is for sure, but I thought energy was only a part of the diversifying Pittsburgh region’s economy? Apparently we’ve been more reliant on those jobs than I thought.
But all is not totally bleak. Looking beyond the anecdotal reports of expanding high tech firms and new startups in the region, the latest statistics show a growth in the total Pittsburgh labor force of over 15,000 and more heartening, an additional 16,100 jobs added in the one month since April. This is quite impressive relative to the region’s anemic job creation performance of even the so-called energy boom times a few years back. If we can maintain that level of job creation, the local economy may actually be getting somewhere. I still maintain that income levels are of equal if not greater importance when determining a region’s economic success. However, until we get statistics on those – and they are measured less frequently than employment rates – we will have to stew over these April jobs numbers. The region simply has to do better.