Sunday, May 01, 2011

Pittsburgh and the Subcontinent

The leading oped in the PG today is about all things India: The Pittsburgh-India connection has paid off for Pittsburgh

I wonder how many think it is a new story? 

I wish they had the video of this online, but when the G20 came through town, Voice of America in India had a whole video segment devoted to Indian immigrants in the Burgh.  It was diasporan himself and journalist Kane Farabaugh who did the piece.  Here is the extant text version online. Kane himself is a true Yinzer from the West End and talked about his Pittsburgh background when he blogged about covering the G20 here.  It's a great read because it connects many generations of Pittsburgh heritage with India via his coverage of the G20's visit to the Point.

But when it comes to Indian immigration here, it really is  not a new story at all. All that being said though should not lead anyone to false conclusions about the overall state of immigration in Pittsburgh.  We remain locked solidly among regions in the nation with the lowest rate of international immigration.  Our low numbers actually lie a bit because if you look at the foreign born population in the region it actually reflects in large part a much older population that likely arrived in the US generations ago when we didn't rank so low.  Recent immigration is about as low as exists.  One result of which is that Pittsburgh also remains just about the single  "white-ist" metropolitan region in the nation if you do a benchmarking of the proportion of white-non Hispanic popualtion here. 

If you want to read more on the state of immigrants impacting the region, probably one of the better places to start is Gregg Zachary's white paper on the topic and focusing on Pittsburgh: Immigrants as urban saviors: When Immigrants Revive a City and When They Don’t - Lessons from the United States

Back to today's oped. I can't believe the oped didn't mention what is probably the key statistic underlying all it is talking about... namely that immigrants from India are in fact the single largest group of immigrants settling in Pittsburgh.  That is a fact these days, as it has been over recent decades as well. Even when you take account the older foreign born in the region which tend to almost all be European in nativity, it has only been in the last few years that largest foreign born group in the Pittsburgh region are folks born in Asia, and the single largest group of Asian immigrants in Pittsburgh are immigrants from India.  People don't quite believe that factoid when I tell them, but add up everyone who was born in every single European country (or former nation in many cases) in town.. age 1-99 or more I guess, and there are fewer of them than those who were born in Asia. That is something that was probably not true as recently as 5 years ago.

This all is really just a chance to repeat again what is one of my favorite factoids on the region.  Today, well under 3% of the region is foreign born.. and as I said a lot of that reflects a much higher incidence of immigrants in the older generations here.. much more so than elsewhere in the nation.  In 1910, over 26% of the City of Pittsburgh was foreign born. Over half of the population was categorized as being "of foreign stock" which was then a term for the foreign born and their children at the time even if they were born in the US*.  Think about that some.

That is 2nd on my list of top immigration factoids for Pittsburgh.  Can you guess what language has been tops for Pittsburgh when it comes to its location quotient.  i.e. what language has had the largest proportion of such speakers within the US?  I'll put the answer up in a bit in case anyone wants to take a guess or two.

In the end the significance of today's oped is that it was written at all.  A lot has changed over the last decade I would be the first to say.  I took a fair bit of personal and professional grief over writing this a decade ago.  Still have a long way to go for sure, but the ground is shifting.

* and those stats focus mostly on the foreign born white population.  Not much notice at all of those who were foreign born and non-white?!


Anonymous BrianTH said...

I don't really understand the trivia question, but I will guess "German" anyway.

Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

German would be a great guess. I was just looking at a study of foreign-born populations and Pittsburgh had the highest percentage of immigrants from Northern Europe (2000 Census and 49 MSAs measured).

Sunday, May 01, 2011 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm going to guess Slovak because I never saw any building that said "Slovak" before I came here.

People don't quite believe that factoid when I tell them...

...because they haven't been seriously ill in a while.

Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:29:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Slovak it is:

Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:32:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I didn't even google that. I may have read it here, but that was a long time ago.

Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

No other news from the subcontinent could possibly compete with this story.

Sunday, May 01, 2011 11:35:00 PM  

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