Weak or strong player? The blogger behind the The Urbanophile and I were discussing the prospects of Pittsburgh over the weekend. The challenge is for me to explain why I'm so bullish on Pittsburgh. The Urbanophile notes the dire indicators such as anemic job creation, net out-migration, and educational attainment. I must admit, Pittsburgh does look relatively weak on paper.
My charge is to review my own blog posts and cobble together my rationale for a strong Pittsburgh. Perhaps I'll get around to providing an answer this week, but the work involved makes this weekend the better prospect. Meanwhile, I'll leave the quantitatively inclined with some numbers to chew on:
From Null Space: For those of you not in the know, Chris Briem's blog is a wealth of data analysis and helpful visuals. I've learned from Chris that one should drill down into the data (usually disaggregate) before hitting the economic panic button. The example I reference describes how depressed wages and the obsession with young adults leaving the region are difficult to reconcile. If Pittsburghers want to fret about something, then city debt would be worthy of all the hand wringing.
The second website/blog that any critic of Pittsburgh should peruse is Pittsburgh Today. How does Pittsburgh compare to other US regions? Primarily the work of John Craig, the host of regional indicators paints a sophisticated picture of the economic landscape. Digesting the wealth of data, I find it difficult to decide if Pittsburgh is a weak or strong player. There are assets to be leveraged and liabilities to be addressed. The companion blog also reveals both good and bad, but I leave The Urbanophile with a glimpse of why I think Pittsburgh is a good bet to emerge as one of the strongest cities in the Rust Belt.
I accept this challenge with some trepidation. I tend to be overly optimistic and I'm sure a strong case against Pittsburgh could be constructed. However, I haven't ignored the negative harbingers. If anything, the lack of in-migration and immigration has forced Pittsburgh to get lean and mean. The deck has been stacked against Pittsburgh for some time and I think a lot of the restructuring is positioning the region for a strong run into the future.