We’ll crib off Mike explicitly this time, who is himself commenting on Harold’s column over the weekend on women owned businesses. All I can say it reminds me again of a quote I have wound up using a lot. Really, it is one of the most remarkable quotes I have ever found about the Pittsburgh economy, past, present, or future, and use whenever the topic comes up:
(Pittsburgh) will, however, slowly decline unless new industries employing women and those engaged in the production of consumer goods are attracted to the area.
Which is from a report written by a place called the Econometric Institute based in News York City and titled: “Long Range Outlook for the Pittsburgh Industrial Area”, stamped February 12, 1947 and was for the Allegheny Conference and the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
That date is no typo and as we have looked at this in depth, it really was true for a long long time that female labor force participation in Pittsburgh lagged the nation by a lot. It really took decades after the employment within manufacturing imploded for the region’s labor force to reach some semblance of gender-normalcy when compared to the nation. This change in the regional labor force I still will argue is the single biggest factor in the economic transformation of Pittsburgh over the last 25 years. Put another way, as long as women failed to have similar opportunities here compared to elsewhere, the entire regional economy was doomed to lag the nation. It was as predicted in 1947.
No secret that Harold is often talking about manufacturing. It is indeed the continuing decline in local manufacutring employment that has precipitated the speed at which we have achieved a new paradigm I mentioned recently as well… namely that the regional workforce has in some recent quarters become majority women. Here is some more specific data for employment in Allegheny County which has now been majority women year-round since 2005.