Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a tale of two cities, and the direction of a third

morning headlines from the mega-region's newspapers:

Pittburgh Post-Gazette
"Pittsburgh is an economic champion, too"
Add this to the Lombardi Trophy and Stanley Cup: The city ranks 18th on the Brookings Institution listing on the strength of local economies in the U.S. (story)

Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Recession will last longest in Midwest, including Ohio, two reports show"
Cleveland ranked 95th among the nation's largest 100 metropolitan areas in economic growth, with a 6.2 percent drop, the Brookings analysis of Moody's data said. (story)


1 - how to explain the growing divergence between Cleveland and Pittsburgh?

2 - how does this divergence effect Youngstown, the place in the middle of the two?

side thought:

ok, in truth, way too much stock is put in these "snapshot" reports by the media and other civic boosters and gasp, even bloggers.

I say "snapshot" because looking at the analysis methods, their research for the most part is examining trends in one year of data. (they look at four items only: percent employment, percent unemployment, metro GDP, and some housing price index)

In a more robust world, at least three years to five years is a much better slice to observe. In addition, GDP growth is a very interesting statistic, but GDP per capita might be a better one to use, especially as some metros are shrinking in size and population.

The authors are looking at recovery from the recession, which may justify their shorter time frame. One might argue Brookings has done longer-range quality reports that show many of the same results.

As a whole (one person's opinion), analyses from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings are generally pretty reputable, as opposed to the junk that comes from Forbes magazine.


Lou said...

Did you see the Brookings Institute map on Cleveland reddit?

Besides the disparity between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it also ranked Akron/Canton in the Second fastest growing group, and of course Y-W-B in the fastest shrinking.

You Might be able to make a case that Cleveland and Pittsburgh are seperated enough Geographically, Politically and Culturally, But Akron and Youngstown?

C'mon? What's the difference?

Diggitt said...

Idly mulling over the possible differences, it occurs to me that Cleveland is clearly a Great Lakes city, and there is a whole cluster of depressed Great Lakes cities.

Not only that, but several things about Great Lakes cities (which have little to do with the economy) make them unappealing to Americans from the rest of the country. Those unappealing things include: their flatness; their winters; their gray skies; and possibly even their relationships with each other, as well as their rustiness.

Pittsburgh not only does not share a geologic / geographic community with them, it isn't really a part of any community of cities, thus standing on its own. Yes, Pittsburgh has winter, but it's more southern than any Great Lakes cities. It has a beautiful location. It was about the first Rust Belt city to be cleaned up and the Mellon money worked wonders. And for what it's worth, it has a longer American history than the cities on the Great Lakes -- I'm not sure Fort Detroit ever compared to Fort Pitt.

i doubt that people doing these assessments specifically look for the characteristics I describe, but they are real differences that might contribute to an unformed but real preference for Pittsburgh.

Lou said...

How does Akron, Which for all intents and purposes is a suburb of Cleveland, get to be one of the winners?

Going from West to East We Have Cleveland (Loser), Akron(Winner), Youngstown(Loser) and Pittsburgh (Winner).

And really, Downtown Pittsburgh is about two-and-a-half hours from Cleveland. Not Exactly what I call A different region.

I really Think it has more to do with the Direction these cities are taking...Akron and Pittsburgh seem to be looking harder at attracting and retaining Creative Business (Tech, finance and the like) and Cleveland and Youngstown have been trying to hold on to Manufacturing.