Monday, July 30, 2012

Underemployment in the West

Quick, what do California, Oregon and Washington have in common?  Among other things, the Pacific  Ocean and lots of good beer among them, they all have higher than average unemployment, much higher than average underemployment and, along with Nevada, the highest difference between unemployment rates and underemployment rates.

All this according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and nicely summarized by the Wall Street Journal.



Cameron Mulder said...

Any idea if this extends to BC?

Cameron Mulder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron Mulder said...

Here were my quick theories.

Economic Inequality
education attainment
state to state migration patterns
High minimum wage
number of foreclosures

After doing a very quick google search I found that none of those theories explain this at all.

I figure it has something to do with the mix of industry found on the west coast but I can't think of anything specific about our mix of industry to explain the underemployment situation.

Maybe the beer is a little too good?

BJCefola said...

Are there any stats that break this out by metro vs. rural? My guess is the spread reflects Portland and Seattle attracting a population willing to accept underemployment as a kind of lifestyle premium. I'd further guess that outside the metro areas the spread is smaller.

Cameron Mulder said...

BJCefola, I thought about that too but when you look at the data the unemployment rate is MUCH higher in the rural parts of Oregon.

The Portland Metro area is actually slightly under the state average (8% vs 8.5% for the state)

BJCefola said...

Cameron, the question isn't about unemployment but underemployment, and the spread relative to unemployment. My guess is that the high unemployment rate in rural areas moves it much closer to the underemployment rate, implying an even greater spread in metro areas.

If that's right the framing of the problem isn't "what's with Washington and Oregon" but rather "what's with Portland and Seattle."

Patrick Emerson said...

Interesting: so essentially the thesis is that there is lots of hipsters working less than full time drawn by the allure of Seattle and Portland...

Anecdotally, this seems plausible, wonder if it is true.

I am posting today on youth unemployment rates.

BJCefola said...

A belated data point: