IT Career JumpStart

Jun 16 2012   3:41PM GMT

Do isolated bright spots in employment confer hope? Hope so!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In the hoopla surrounding the duelling candidates’ visits to Ohio yesterday I was struck by repeated reports that with unemployment below 7% in Ohio, it’s a tough sell for the Republican candidate to promote doom, gloom, and dismal employment to such an audience. Then this morning, I saw a blurb in the Business section of the Austin American Statesman that indicated even though unemployment has jumped recently in the area, the starting point is 5.5 percent and the ending point only 5.8 percent.

I guess that puts my metro area ahead of Ohio, which may be good for local pride, but that’s not the real point of this blog. My musings today are to try to understand what’s brought unemployment down in these areas to see if there’s anything in there for the rest of our country, which is now subject to overall unemployment levels of 8.2 percent as per the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics report for May, 2012. And actually, the REAL number is probably over 10 percent when you factor in those workers who have been unemployed long enough not to register on the official count any more (the so-called “discouraged workers” who are believed to be no longer looking for work, and whose numbers are probably two or three times the 830,000 that the US BLS estimates in the May report).

In chewing over what’s going on, I see several interesting things at work:

  • a resurgence in manufacturing, mostly for newer and greener industries (this one attaches more to Ohio than to the Austin area)
  • a surprisingly young general demographic (median age in Austin 31, in Texas overall 40.8; median age in Ohio 36.2, in USA overall 36.9) Admittedly, Austin has the youth edge, but we’re smaller and our reputation is hipper than Ohio. But cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati are undergoing amazing renaissances that put them much more on par with “The Live Music Capital of the World” than many people think.
  • high-tech, high-tech, high-tech: both areas are benefiting from lots of interest and activity in technology focused industries and development work, particularly for information technology.
Youth, technology, and making things happen. This tells me there’s hope for the future, but also that older workers left stranded in the recent downturn are going to have to lean more forward into what’s ahead, rather than trying to recapture what’s been left behind, to make their way back into the workforce. And of course, a general economic upturn wouldn’t hurt things, either. But if we do decide to invest in our infrastructure to stimulate employment, I want to see high-tech infrastructure and more technology education right up there at the top of the list!
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And maybe, just maybe, The Pretenders are going to have to change the meaning of “Way to go Ohio” from My City Was Gone to be more congratulatory than sarcastic…

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