An Economic Resurgence in the “Steel City”

It’s funny to think that people find it odd that Pittsburgh has become a city that people are striving to visit.  For me it is common place, but it wasn’t always this way. With the collapse of the steel industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the city struggled to climb back into a positive light.  However, that has all changed in recent years. Whether it is to live, work or visit, a new, unique appeal draws young professionals to the city of Pittsburgh.

As a young professional myself, it’s great to see my hometown back to where it used to be: thriving, energetic, and sustainable.  Although I wasn’t alive during the peak steel era, I’ve heard numerous tales of the way things used to be: a strong sense of pride in the city itself and the benefits that it provided.  However, the makeup is much different now than before.  Instead of blue collar steel industry jobs, the trend has shifted towards technology and innovation in a variety of different industries.  PNC seems to have taken over the skyline, energy is thriving, and UPMC and Highmark are the city’s largest employers.  No, this is not just coming out of my brain because I am a yinzer.  In fact, The Economist has put Pittsburgh in the top spot as the most livable city in the United States.  The Economist has also placed Pittsburgh at or near the top places to live three out of the last seven years (1).

The resurgence of Pittsburgh is here to stay because of five industries: healthcare, education, technology,  financial services, and, of course, energy.

The Healthcare Industry:

As of 2013, about 1 in 5 private-sector employees in the area work at a hospital, a doctor’s office or in some other health services business.  Dominated by the likes of UPMC and Highmark, the healthcare industry is the region’s largest source of employment.

Education:

With players like Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh, education has become a particularly valued asset in Pittsburgh.  30.5% of the city’s population is between the ages of 25-34.  Forbes recently ranked Pittsburgh second only behind Boston as the second smartest city in America (2).  Young people have begun to flock to the city, in part, due to its unquestionable reputation in higher education.

Technology:

The past ten years in Pittsburgh have seen persistent growth in the technologies industry.  Just last week, Uber placed its Advanced Technologies Center in the area.  “The best and the brightest minds in the field are already here and by keeping them here, we set Pittsburgh up to be one of the great mobility technology hubs in the world,” said Corey Owens, the company’s head of global public policy.

Financial Services:

With such a structural change to the economy of Pittsburgh away from its manufacturing tendencies of old, financial services have become a vital sector.  With new investment requires the proper disbursement of capital in order to develop a successful business.  Pittsburgh has fit the mold with its successful resurgence.  Just recently, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke asserted that China’s current manufacturing economy will ultimately have to take a page out of Pittsburgh’s transition playbook.  “It (Pittsburgh) is a tremendously interesting and diverse economy … and that is kind of a metaphor for what some East Asian economies have to do,” said Bernanke.

Energy

The Marcellus Shale region has become one of the key industries to the revitalization of Pittsburgh.  With such a high profile in the energy industry, Bravo Group has seen first-hand what it has done for the Pittsburgh community.  Our own Adam Pope recently placed an op-ed in the Post-Gazette highlighting its successes.  “The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration report found that the Marcellus Shale produced significantly more natural gas in 2013 than any other field in the country. It produced 2.8 trillion cubic feet, compared to the Barnett Shale in Texas, which produced 1.95 trillion cubic feet.”  To put that into perspective, the U.S. as a nation consumed about 26.13 trillion cubic feet in 2013.  Yet another key reason that Pittsburgh has and will see continued economic growth and development.

While the makeup of the “steel city” has certainly shifted, the hard working, blue collar attitude has remained.  It has evolved with the times and presents itself as an economy of the future with citizens that desire to work and be successful.  Similar to days of old, Pittsburgh is able to reflect on a past rooted in hard work and commitment.  Just as its sports teams, Pittsburgh has managed to get back up after being knocked down.  For that, I am proud to work at the Bravo Group and be a part of such a renaissance in the Pittsburgh area.

 

  1. http://www.nextpittsburgh.com/business-tech-news/economist-names-pittsburgh-livable-city/
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2014/11/17/americas-smartest-cities/

Tyler Gilbert ~ Pittsburgh Intern 

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