Story of the day is about a new report from Brookings looking at the immigrant labor force in metro areas. Factoid that pops out is that Pittsburgh has one of the most educated immigrant flows in the nation. Actually it is again the most educated immigrant flow in the US.
The Brookings profile of our immigrants is here. What you see is we are the outlier in both share of immigrants in the region, but also quite the outlier when it comes to the educational attainment of the immigrants we do have.
Again, because it really is not a new story in any sense. That link goes to a 2004 article, which itself references some research using data back to 1995, and there is no reason to think that is the farthest back you could show similar things for the region.
That is not to say things are not changing in the region’s international diversity. I pointed out last month that it has only been in the last few years that Pittsburgh’s foreign born population has shifted from mostly European to mostly Asian. I bet if you surveyed the public on that, the vast majority would not think that is the case.
That we are attracting well educated immigrants is really part and parcel with where local job growth has been and the changes in the local labor force. You have to get beyond some of the age distortions that come out of having an older population.. older folks (especially in Pittsburgh) generally did not achieve higher education in the same way folks do now. If you are looking at regional metrics, conflating older and younger folks in education metrics confuses the issues.
So when we looked at the younger part of the workforce, you really see how Pittsburgh is nearly the most educated place in the nation when it comes to workers. For the proportion of workers age 25-34 with a graduate degree, we actually may be #1.. at worst tied with Washington, DC which has something of an artificially distinct workforce because of the Federal government. The folks finding jobs here are those with higher education, and where we lack demand is for those without some advanced education. That pattern is just what gets translated into the immigration flows. All this also matches the data on where folks naturalizing as citizens are coming from; the latest public data on Pittsburgh I posted here, which was data from 2009. The 2010 data is out, but USCIS online is only reporting the top 50 metro and micro areas ranked by immigration flow and we fall below the top 50 is you believe that. So one big point is that this data on intl immigrants reflects both who comes to Pittsburgh (those with a lot of education, or those who acquire advanced education here), but also those who do not. So we get very low flows of international immigrants without advanced education.
* apologies to, or more a tip of the hat to the late Clarke Thomas' version: They Came to Pittsburgh