Thursday, January 20, 2011

Immigrant-Burgh... or not.

Missed this, but Rustwire focused on international immigration in Pittsburgh a couple days ago.  I get a call out of the blue every week from someone... journalists, researchers, other interested folks, specific to the topic of international immigration in Pittsburgh. Usually folks from outside the region and I just dump on them a load of history and statistics. The short version of it all is that to the degree we have any data the region remains near the bottom of any benchmarking of international immigrants compared to anywhere else in the US.  Some go 'wow', some don't believe me and one national media journalist once spontaneously asked incredulously "but who drives the taxis?"

Recent immigration here is so low that almost any growth appears significant.. and indeed any real trend has to start somewhere. But the Rustwire piece quotes a few current statistics that show we are even a fraction of Cleveland and Buffalo when it comes to the size of the local Hispanic population (which is not necessarily a proxy for immigration mind you), and neither of those places are exactly high on any such list themselves.  A friend disputed the low numbers with me once with a comment that I think is fairly summarized as... 'but I heard someone speaking Spanish in Target' as if it was a big new thing.  It might have been, but to me it only reinforced the data at hand... nowhere else in the country would there be cause to notice someone speaking Spanish out shopping.

In the comments there I learned something though.  I didn't realize the Hispanic Center had fully closed. I knew it was waning for some time.  It was an interesting concept when it started and and part of a focused effort to attract immigrants here a decade ago.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

This is a tangential comment, but nationwide the native-born Hispanic population is slowly but surely taking over share from the immigrant Hispanic population. And as usual, with each passing generation more Hispanics are preferring English over Spanish (eventually losing Spanish altogether), intermarrying, converging on U.S. norms in terms of education and economic measures, and so on. Of course this is the same story that has happened with each prior immigration wave, and it seems likely to me at some point Hispanics will start to occupy roughly the same place as Irish, Italians, Germans, and so on.

I'm bringing this up because I could see Pittsburgh being a place that kinda fast-forwards to my predicted end-state. The idea would be that Pittsburgh might see a lot more domestic in-migration of native-born Hispanics and part-Hispanics than international immigration of Hispanic in the upcoming decades, such to the extent it does develop a larger Hispanic share, it ends up being disproportionately native-born in comparison to U.S. places which are currently established as international Hispanic immigration gateways.

Anyway, just an interesting (at least to me) thought I have had.

Friday, January 21, 2011 8:16:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Oh, and if I had to bet on any sort direct international immigrant wave to Pittsburgh, I'd look to Asia, maybe specifically South Asia. We've already got a little of that going on, and I could see that expanding for various reasons.

Friday, January 21, 2011 8:21:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Hispanics will start to occupy roughly the same place as Irish, Italians, Germans, and so on.

If the Port Authority cuts any more buses from Oakland, they'll be in exactly the same place and the Irish and Italians.

Friday, January 21, 2011 11:49:00 AM  
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Monday, January 24, 2011 4:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Rust Wire said...

Thanks for the shout out!

Saturday, February 05, 2011 10:32:00 PM  
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