Sunday, September 23, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Two Tales of One City: Ogden is Rising and Reeling

Revitalized core and its new jobs stand in stark contrast to neighborhoods still bearing brunt of recession’s unemployment high of 12.5 percent

Interesting Paul Beebe story in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune, dovetailing somewhat with Dan Schroeder's seminal 7/29/12 writeup, and putting the focus on Ogden City's still-troubling unemployment statistics. Despite the ample Boss Godfrey quotes, this "ain't no puff piece," folks.  Here's the lede:
The first year of the Great Recession was pretty easy on Ogden. For most of 2008, unemployment wavered around 5 percent of the labor force, pretty good for Utah’s seventh-largest city, which had seen far higher rates of joblessness earlier in the decade.

That changed in December, when the jobless rate exploded. In just 30 days, it jumped to 11 percent from 5.3 percent in November.

Thus began an extraordinarily difficult time for Ogden. Over the next two years, the jobless rate averaged above 10 percent. For a year it was 11 percent or higher. And in July and August 2009, after the recession officially ended, the unemployment reached 12.5 percent — highest of any city in Utah with a population of 25,000 or more.
Read the full Trib story here:
So what about it, O Gentle Ones? Has the Ogden City jobs economy made any significant net progress during the past four years? Are we even treading water? If you were the philosopher-king/emperor of Ogden City, with unlimited dictatorial power, what changes would you make to improve Ogden City's still-dismal unemployment picture?


Bob Becker said...

Purely anecdotal evidence, but in the last month I've started to see a few "Now Hiring" signs in the windows of smaller shops, fast food emporia, etc.   A surge of good paying jobs, no.  But there was a long stretch during which those signs were not there.  Gotta be a good indication, however modest, of something.   Hope so, anyway.   

googlegirl said...

 Even If You're All-Powerful, It's Hard To Fix The Economy

Dan S. said...

Just entered the following comment on the Trib article page, where it's awaiting moderation:

Some of the statistics in this article are misleading because they don't distinguish between Ogden City (population 83,000) and the Ogden-Clearfield Metro Area (population 547,000, including all of Weber, Davis, and Morgan counties). Consider the following passage:"Between 2003 and last year, Ogden added 9,000 new jobs and injected new life into downtown, said former Mayor Matthew Godfrey, citing U.S. Labor Department figures. By some measures, the city has enjoyed so much progress that in June Forbes magazine said Ogden was the sixth-best metro area in the U.S. for business and careers. Forbes also has lauded the community as one of America’s "most livable" and "best performing" cities. 24/7 Wall Street, an online business newsletter, says Ogden is one of a handful of U.S. cities with a "booming" manufacturing sector."The first statistic, about the 9,000 added jobs, does not come from the Labor Department as Godfrey claims. The Labor Department doesn't publish jobs data at the city level. It does publish jobs data at the county level, and if you compare 2011 to 2003, you find that Weber County gained about 3,000 jobs, while Davis County gained about 15,000, so the metro area gained about 18,000. Godfrey's 9,000 statistic almost certainly comes from an informal tally of jobs that his administration claims to have "recruited" to the city's various redevelopment districts. Last year they were saying 8,000, so the claim has apparently grown a bit. But this figure includes jobs that merely relocated within the city, and excludes concurrent job losses. The best available data from the Census Bureau suggest that Ogden City actually lost about 2,000 jobs (net) between 2002 and 2010. (Data for 2011 at this level of detail aren't yet available.)The favorable ratings from Forbes and 24/7 Wall Street are for the Ogden-Clearfield Metro Area, which is dominated by Davis County and the Weber County suburbs.Here is a comprehensive analysis of jobs data for Ogden City and the surrounding county and metro area:

BikerBabe said...

 yeah, teens & seniors get jobs, while the middle class (remember those that earn up to 1/4 mill) still cannot find work to pay the bills.


Pasimpson2 said...

Try getting a job as a Senior.

Dan S. said...

I'm pleased to report that the comment above has survived the moderation process and appeared on the Trib's web site. It took at least a few hours, but it's refreshing to deal with a news organization that's willing to be publicly corrected--unlike the Deseret News.

Dan S. said...

For archival completeness, here's a follow-up comment that I posted on the Trib site this morning. (This one appeared instantly, probably because it doesn't contain a link.)

I should add that the unemployment statistics and graph in this article are nominally for Ogden City, not the Ogden-Clearfield metro area. The Labor Department does publish unemployment data at the city level, for cities with more than 25,000 residents. As the article notes, the unemployment data are based on where people live, not where they work or where they would work if they had jobs.But estimating unemployment rates is a statistical process that's prone to many errors and uncertainties. The data are based on surveys sent to a statistical sampling of households, so it's not as if anyone is actually counting unemployed workers, one by one. I've also noticed that the official Ogden City unemployment rate is related to the Weber County unemployment rate by a ratio that remains fixed from month to month, changing abruptly in January of each Census year. So it's clear that they're not making independent monthly estimates of unemployment at the city level; they're doing that only every 10 years, and then using monthly estimates at a higher level (possibly state-wide?) to guess what's happening locally from month to month. (None of these caveats apply to county-level jobs data, which are compiled from employers' unemployment insurance paperwork and are therefore far more accurate--for what they measure--than the official unemployment rate estimates.)The bottom line is that you shouldn't read too much into that abrupt jump in unemployment in December 2008. Yes, the recession caused unemployment to increase nationwide at around that time, and yes, Ogden was affected along with everyone else. Furthermore, it's generally true that Ogden's unemployment rate is on the high side, compared to other Utah cities. But we just don't have the data to tell exactly what's happening in Ogden over time scales shorter than a decade.

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