Showing posts with label dublin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dublin. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where did Zippia go wrong?


Web site names Cochran, Dublin among worst places to find work in Georgia

Zippia lists themselves as career experts. They may be but they are not experts in labor statistics. In July, they published “These Are The 10 Worst Places In Georgia To Get A Job”.

Unsurprisingly, officials in some of those cities and towns were not pleased to see their localities appear on that list.

"Dublin is the regional hub for about 15 counties in Middle Georgia from a labor and employment standpoint. So if there's been a more successful community for job creation in this state, I'd like to know about it," according to Brad Lofton, development authority president in Dublin, as quoted by WMGT-TV.

On its website, Zippia says it used the following criteria to determine its list:

·       Unemployment rate
·       Recent job growth
·       Future job growth
·       Sales Tax
·       Median household income

So how did Zippia use statistics to come to its misleading conclusions?

Unemployment rate

Confusing employment with jobs is a common mistake. The unemployment rate is determined by an estimate based on households. By definition, it measures where people live, not where they work.

It is much better to measure relative job opportunities by looking at the number of jobs growing or declining in an area, not the number of people employed in that area.  

Cochran Mayor Michael Stoy makes a good point in the same story when he says, "We are looking at a large percentage of our population that goes up to Warner Robins."

When BLS or the Georgia Department of Labor counts a new job, that job is counted in the community where it is created. When a statistical agency counts the number of employed or unemployed, they are counted based on where the people live not where they work.

For example, my neighborhood, in a suburb of Atlanta, has only houses in it, so by definition, it would be regarded as a bad place to get a job since the neighborhood is residential with no businesses. Residents have jobs outside the neighborhood, so their jobs are counted where they go to work. If they commute to Atlanta, the job is counted as located in Atlanta, but they are counted as employed in my neighborhood. If a resident loses a job in Atlanta, they would be counted as unemployed where they live, in my neighborhood in this example, not in the City of Atlanta.

There is an undeserved negative connotation in listing a place as “worse to get a job” if the people in that area commute elsewhere for employment. Unless you believe that everyone should work out of their homes, using unemployment statistics to measure job growth is a poor choice.

Recent job growth

Recent job growth (or decline) should be the number one, and perhaps, only criteria to determine “worst places to get a job.” It is hard to know the data used by the site in determining job numbers because they are very general in their description.

For example, it says about Fitzgerald, Ga., “The city ranks as having the weakest recent job growth.” 

Hard to judge based on that general statement, which is more definitive than some of the statements for other cities and towns on the list. Here is where hard numbers and some definitions would help.

Future job growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces an occupational outlook for the United States, and the Georgia Department of Labor produces a similar report for Georgia. 

Beyond these two reports, job forecasting for small cities and towns is much more problematic.

It is true that smaller areas in Georgia have not seen the growth of the larger metro areas such as Atlanta, and that is worrying, but it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately forecast growth for a particular small area.

This is even truer for smaller areas, because an area with a small employment base can be radically affected by the opening or closure of one establishment. I also don’t know how much into the future they are attempting to forecast, but it is hard to make an accurate forecast of job growth in a small area beyond 6 months.

It is easier to forecast larger areas, such as states, than smaller areas like communities where small changes can have large impacts.

Sales tax

I have no idea how sales tax relates to getting a job, and I don’t know if they are speaking about the amount of sales tax or the growth rate of the tax. I am sure the site has some way of using these data, but it is not obvious.

Median household income

Poorer areas tend to have fewer services, and jobs in poor areas tend to pay less. That impacts the salaries for jobs, but not the number of jobs themselves. The “study” was to be about the worst places to find a job, not a study of the areas with the lowest paying jobs. 

The two criteria are not the same. Georgia is growing faster than many states with higher median household income. 

Hopefully, the web site does a better job of finding employment for people than giving advice.

Job losses in Georgia counties

Below are two tables that may be more useful than the information provided by Zippia. 

The first shows the largest net job losses for Georgia counties in 2014. The second shows the largest percentage job losses in Georgia counties in 2014. There is some overlap, but many of the counties on each list are different, as you might expect. Both tables are looking back on 2014, not forecasting the future.

As a comparison using the same source, Georgia, as a state, added 147,335 job in 2014 for a growth rate of 3.7%.

Table A. Net job losses in calendar year 2014

Baldwin -708
Colquitt -453
Telfair -338
Dawson -255
Upson -253
Thomas -242
Marion -200
Stephens -199
Dodge -165
Elbert -151

Table B. Percentage job losses in calendar year 2014

Marion -12.8%
Talbot -10.2%
Telfair -9.0%
Wheeler -8.9%
Heard -6.4%
Clay -4.8%
Twiggs -4.5%
Baldwin -4.5%
Glascock -4.3%
Webster -4.0%

Data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.