You read it here first.
OK, you read it in the Pittsburgh Economic Quarterly first, but we’re running with it.
According to the Quarterly, a publication of the University of Pittsburgh, our beloved city has the fifth most educated young workforce.
As the Quarterly reported, Pitt’s Center for Social and Urban Research recently analyzed data from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and compared the Pittsburgh area data to that of the 40 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the nation.
Among the findings: “Workers aged 25-34 in the Pittsburgh region who had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2009 ranked fifth among the 40 largest MSAs, following Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Austin,” The Quarterly reported. “Conversely, Pittsburgh ranked lowest in terms of the proportion of the labor force with less than a high school degree or equivalent. In 2009, only 2.2 percent of workers aged 25–34 in the Pittsburgh region had less than a high school degree or equivalent.”
Wait, it gets better.
Again, according to the Quarterly, “In 2009, 21.5 percent of workers aged 25–34 in the Pittsburgh region possessed a graduate or professional degree, virtually tied with the Washington, D.C ., metropolitan region. Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C ., along with Boston, were the only regions in the country to have at least 20 percent of workers in this age range with advanced degrees.”
Mazel tov everyone, we live in a well-educated part of the country, and the statistics bear that out.
But there is a cautionary note to this news.
As Christopher Briem, the author of the Quarterly story, wrote, “A region’s labor force is not the same as either its total population or its entire working age population. Only those currently employed and those actively seeking work are counted in the labor force. At the same time, many people are not in the labor force.”
Nevertheless, this is something to build on, something to promote, something to help check the demographic decline of this region, which, as any synagogue officer dealing with budgets and dues will tell you, affects the entire Jewish community.
So how do we use this rare piece of good news?
Well, we can post it to Web sites like ours, the Federation’s and a host of others in the community — get the word out.
But I rather admire the proactive approach that the Jews of Dothan, Ala., took to growing their community. Thanks to the generosity of one of its families, Dothan began something called the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services, a project that seeks to build Dothan’s Jewish community of 53 family units, in part by offering grants of up to $50,000 to 20 individual Jewish families if they agree to move to Dothan for at least five years.
There are guidelines, of course, but talk about thinking outside the box!
I’m not suggesting we replicate the Dothan experiment in Pittsburgh but there’s something to be said for actively seeking newcomers to our community. And now we have a new tool to entice them.
(Lee Chottiner, the executive editor of The Chronicle, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)