Monday, October 04, 2010

BGB rants by other names

OK.  I've had my Border Guard Bob rant, but if you want to read the full AP story via the Indiana Gazette : Pittsburgh area firms trying to keep grads local.

So no more BGB- specific commentary, but seriously there are several false premises embedded in the article and clearly in the head of many quoted in it.  Recruiting and efforts at recruiting workers are all well and good.  However the premise that Pittsburgh suffers from 'losing' young workers or young graduates is just not factually true... and what people don't want to accept no matter how you parse the data for them is that it has not been true for many many years now. 

Why then had population, and in particular migration compared so badly here for so many years even after the collapse of steel jobs in the 1980s?  Simply put, our rate of 'losing' people compares ok with many other region, but what we lack are people moving INTO Pittsburgh. On that we compare badly and one result is that net migration is impacted.  So any effort that tries to merely keep the young people here from leaving is fine, but won't do much to address whatever the 'problem' has been which is that we are not attracting people from elsewhere.  People just can't get out of their head some idea that all the young people are leaving at rates higher than other regions.  Persistence of memory is what I call it, and it really is something that has not been true since the mid 1980's at the latest. 

I also wonder how much better we can ever possibly do at 'keeping' people here given that we do ok in general right now.  At the margin the potential for keeping more people here has to be pretty minimal... diminishing marginal returns being what they are in most any endeavor.  Hard to imagine we are going to become an outlier on the high side at keeping all the local graduates here.  It's probably an impossible task in general, but it's an even harder goal today as local institutions continue to improve their ability to attract matriculating students from outside the state and region.. thus bringing in the students that are most likely to leave when the graduate. 

So I know..  it really is a BGB rant in all but name.. but the logic that made BGB seem like such a good idea is as persistent today as it has been for a long time.


Anonymous MH said...

but what we lack are people moving INTO Pittsburgh.

At least for grown adults used to decent infrastructure and reasonable local taxes, it is a big adjustment.

Monday, October 04, 2010 2:18:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I think there is a good case to be made that minimizing out-migration wouldn't be desirable even if it were possible, and that to the extent you wanted to have positive net migration, ideally you would want to do that with at least a decent amount of underlying churn.

Monday, October 04, 2010 5:05:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

Hills and mountains automatically make any form of infrastructure maintenance or enhancement more expensive. That's just how it is.

As for taxes, I think every native Pittsburgher should be exiled to Chicago for two years. That might be the only way they'll ever shut up about Pittsburgh's taxes.

Monday, October 04, 2010 8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Wheeling is hillier and with much better roads. It seems a shame we manage just enough corruption to keep things from running well but not enough to make Uncle Sam pay for something decent. Also, Chicago has even fewer last names on the ballot that Pittsburgh, but it does have reasonable mass transit and readily available beer.

Speaking of beer, my solution to the transit crisis has always been letting them sell beer on the bus. That would certainly give Pittsburgh a unique and positive brand among young people.

Monday, October 04, 2010 8:31:00 PM  

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