Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Confirming what is pretty easy to tell from a walk down the streets of Pittsburgh, Forbes ran an article showing that Pittsburgh has the smallest percentage of Foreign Nationals of any city nationwide. By comparison, San Jose is 37.2% immigrants, Philadelphia is 28.3% and the national average is 12%. Forbes sites two reasons for a lack of immigration in cities like Pittsburgh. First, a lack of economic opportunities (read employment opportunities). Second, a lack of immigrant communities for the new immigrants to settle in.

The top 10 imigrantless cities are:
  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Cincinnati
  3. St. Louis
  4. Indianapolis
  5. Cleveland
  6. Virginia Beach
  7. Kansas City
  8. Columbus
  9. Nashville
  10. Milwaukee
I want to take a closer look at the first issue, jobs. It's frequently sited that jobs are hard to find in Pittsburgh, but just how hard relative to the other "imagrantless" cities? If you take a look at the top 10 "imigrantless" cities only 3 are on Forbes "100 Best Cities for Jobs" (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus) and of those only Columbus ranks ahead of us. As far as unemployment goes, of the 10 cities we were 3rd with an unemployment rate of 5.3%, 0.7% (or almost an entire standard deviation) lower then the average of 6.0%. It's pretty easy to conclude that of these 10 cities we have one of, if not the, best job situation.

Then why are we dead last on the list of most "imigrantless"? Is it possible that while Pittsburgh once considered itself a melting pot of foreigners we are now not exactly welcoming or perhaps even hostile to newcomers? It's worth considering, along with its companion question, how could we make the city more hospitable to foreign born talent?

  • Chris Briem is quoted in the article and also has a tidbit about it on his blog.
  • Jim Russell also has a post on the article.

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