What a Difference a Day Makes – Better Yet, 24 Years

Apr 10, 2014 by

Written by David Augustinho
March 28th 2014
Barnstable Patriot
Ah, the good old days. Remember when the Cape was almost exclusively a seasonal economy: lazy days of “off-season” October through April?Well, I don’t. But the Labor Market Information sources that I have access to certainly can conjure up information that shows differences between the Cape in 1990 and the Cape today.First of all, let’s look at the labor force in July of 1990. That would top out at 113,251 individuals available to the region’s employers. In July of 2013 135,987 workers were available. That is an increase of 18 percent in the labor force, over 20,000 more workers available.

Did that increase in the labor force match up with more jobs? Well, yes it did. In July of 1990 a total of 107,753 individuals were employed in Barnstable County. By July of 2013 128,102 workers were on the job here, almost exactly matching the 20,000-plus increase in the labor force.

We can see the lingering effects of the great recession of 2008/09 reflected in a higher unemployment rate in 2013. The July unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, versus the July 1990 rate of 4.9 percent. By the way, the state unemployment rate for the same period was 6.4 percent in 1990 and 7.3 percent in 2013, matching the increase in the local rate.

Aren’t statistics fun?

I could not go back to 1990 to look at industry data, but I was able to go back to 2001 and compare that to 2012.

In the construction industry in 2001 there were 905 establishments employing 5,342 workers; in 2012 we had 1,034 establishments with 5,013 workers. Looks like companies may have found ways to work more efficiently with 300 fewer workers to staff 100 more businesses.

In the manufacturing sector there were 239 firms in 2001 compared to 182 firms in 2012, a 24 percent reduction. The number of employees in manufacturing is down to 2,205 in 2012 from 3,316 in 2001. That is a 34 percent reduction in the number of employees.

In the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance & Real Estate) in 2001 673 companies employed 4,744 workers. For 2012 the numbers were 602 companies employing almost 1,000 fewer workers, 3,735 being the total.

Two of our largest employers fared much better in the new millennium. The health care sector went from 633 to 732 establishments while employment went from 12,133 workers to 15,800, a whopping 25 percent increase in health care employment. Our leisure and hospitality industry has about the same number of businesses, 1,317 in 2001 and 1,334 in 2012, while employment went from 24,926 to 27,135, an increase of about 9 percent.

It looks like service industry jobs increased in general, which follows the national pattern. In the catch-all category of other services, excluding public administration, we increased from 873 to 1,057 establishments and from 3,920 employees to 4,423 employees, a 12 percent increase.

So I don’t see a radical change in the structure of our economy on Cape Cod. I do believe that a change to a more year0round economy is driving some of the increases in the service sector. I also think that in 2001 the Cape was still one of the fastest growing economies in the state, or nation for that matter, and a slowing from that level of activity is reflected in the lower job levels in the construction industry.

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