Many more coming into city of Pittsburgh to work
By Brian Bowling and Rachel Weaver
Published: Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
When ShowClix decided it needed more room, the event ticketing company picked Downtown because the central location and variety of restaurants and nearby entertainment venues make recruiting employees easier.
“We couldn't be happier,” company President Lynsie Campbell said.
The company started in Oakmont and then moved to Shadyside before moving into its Smithfield Street location a year ago. Like Campbell, who lives in Edgewood, many of the 40 workers live in the suburbs.
Census Bureau figures released on Thursday from the 2011 American Community Survey show those workers and the company are part of larger trends. The census estimates at least 153,000 more people commuted into Pittsburgh for work than commuted out of the city to work in other communities in 2011. A little more than one out of every two workers in the city lived outside its borders.
ShowClix's migration is part of the larger trend that has kept the number of jobs in Pittsburgh relatively stable for decades even as the population shrank, said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh who studies such trends.
“The number of people working in the city of Pittsburgh has been remarkably consistent, about 300,000, going back about 50 years,” he said.
That's not true for other northern industrial cities that, like Pittsburgh, bled population over the past several decades.
“The jobs left with the people,” he said.
Among several factors explaining the trend is that the city remains an attractive place for businesses, even though people want to live in the suburbs, Briem said.
“Clearly, the job numbers show it's not a horrible place to work,” he said.
Rebecca Jamrozik Mickler, 33, commutes nearly two hours roundtrip daily from Beaver to her job as director of Greek life at Duquesne University. She likes where she lives for its proximity to family, but working Uptown has its perks, such as easy access to sporting venues, she said. Also, not every university offers her job.
“My job is pretty unique,” she said.
She uses her drive to unwind and enjoys the radio, but commuting costs can add up.
“As gas prices get higher, I am considering alternative methods,” she said.
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said the city's population nearly doubles during the day both because of commuters and because of people attending shows and sporting events.
“We're really the living room of the region,” Doven said. “People come here to be entertained.”
The trend presents the city with a difficult financial challenge. Unlike Philadelphia, Pittsburgh does not have a commuter tax, except for the $52-a-year local services tax that every community collects. Income taxes go back to the communities where people live rather than where they work.
Kristi Milczarczyk, 31, a senior recruiting manager for PNC Financial Services Group, Downtown, grew up in Bethel Park and moved to New York City. When she returned to Pittsburgh, she opted for a mix of suburbia and city life by moving to Dormont while working in the city.
“I love the new restaurants and businesses,” she said. “There are a lot of young people living Downtown, so there's an influx of energy. I love being down here.”
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