Which together got me thinking. A basic metric we teach for how concentrated an industry is in a region is a Location Quotient. Check the link if you want the long explanation, but the LQ is a measure that is more than 1.0 for an industry if it has a higher concentration than the national average. Less concentration than average you get a number less than 1.0. You compute a LQ for distinct industries or occupations typically. LQ analysis has been around a long time, but it is not far removed from the more in vogue of late 'cluster analysis' the EDA director mentioned in his oped the other day. Old is new again.... except for Pittsburgh it seems.
Suffice it to say that for most of its history, Pittsburgh has had a LQ for manufacturing industries higher than 1.0. Far higher than 1.0 actually. For specific industies such as steel far far higher than 1.0. So I just calculated the current LQ for manufacturing in Pittsburgh and it works out like this with employment numbers in thousands:
So not only are we not the manufacturing region we once were... the most recent data shows we have a LQ less than 1.0! I know that's an esoteric stat for most, but it really is deeply telling factoid. When I calculated this for 2007, not that long ago, we were at least at parity with the US with a manufacturing LQ exactly 1.0. It's not that manufacturing has declined nationally, but Pittsburgh's relative concentration of manufacturing employment has continued to decline to the point where we are now well below average. So if it is coming back for Pittsburgh, it has quite a ways to go. While the NPR article points out some of positive points in local manufacturing industries, there are at the same time continuing hits that net out a lot of the impact.