Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Labor Shortage Pittsburgh

WTAE Pittsburgh investigates the region's surprising lack of foreign born residents. The report puts a positive spin on the urban assets that should attract more immigrants, who are correctly seen as vital to turning around Pittsburgh's longstanding population decline. I took note of the link to the following RAND commentary dated from 2004:

Despite the loss of jobs during the recent recession, optimists have projected a shortage of as many as 125,000 workers in metropolitan Pittsburgh as early as 2008. Who knows what that number might prove to be? What's noteworthy is that Pittsburgh's unfolding demographic future does contain opportunities.

A job surplus combined with a worker shortage could prompt employers to boost wages to attract and retain more people in Pittsburgh jobs. That would be good news for people already working here, who could see their paychecks increase.

The demand for more workers and rising wages could also make metropolitan Pittsburgh a more attractive place for people to move to and for young people to stay after graduating from high schools, trade schools and the colleges and universities in the area.

I keep hearing about worker shortages, but I haven't seen any evidence that indicates that wages are rising as a result. That leaves the very local knowledge about the excellent value proposition of living and working in Pittsburgh. The WTAE story does a good job of making this point. TiE Pittsburgh board member Ganesh Mani provides the inside scoop:

"Pittsburgh has wonderful infrastructure -- the universities, the airport -- but it's also underutilized infrastructures. So, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, that's where the opportunities are," Mani said.

These attributes may be why Pittsburgh can attract top talent while sporting such low wages. However, immigration is still woefully anemic. There is still a missing piece to this demographic puzzle.

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