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.