Monday, May 6, 2013

Pittsburgh's success still a segregated thing

Business is not booming among our African-American community, according to our most recent quarterly statistical reminder:  higher than normal black unemployment for a major city, and more of that employment in lower-paying jobs and industries than usual.

Another scandal.

But the prescription is cloudy...

While it's good to celebrate our region's successes, it's time we started making more serious efforts to correct our weaknesses. We need to accelerate our economic and workforce development efforts, but we need to do it in a way that will benefit all of our region's citizens. (P-G, Harold D. Miller)

In what way is that? On his blog, Miller recommends lower business taxes; and more public investment in industrial development, infrastructure, education and public transit.

Yet how to accomplish those objectives, when so much of it is directly dependent on an economically conservative PA state government that fancies its own resources stretched to the bursting point? I suppose we could try to be as persuasive as possible that the state should simply cut lose with its budget, but maybe we need to increase our odds.

Making progress will take a lot of forward-thinking creativity on Pitsburgh's part: not just in pushing more publicly-assisted development projects down the pipeline (for we have been doing adequately, and should continue to do so) but leveraging opportunities in such a way that benefits trickle forth and multiply. Not to mention creatively working with our school district and making wise, knowing choices in regards to infrastructure investment.


  1. Miller's article is excellent but I wonder if there isn't a logical inconsistency. He identifies three action steps - improve the regional business climate, improve public education, improve public transit - and I say, Bravo Mr. Miller!

    (although I'd put them in reverse order, ranked by timeliness of payoff - first transit, then schools, then 'climate')

    But he makes a fallacy in suggesting both, improve the local business climate by cutting state taxes, followed by identify numerous public investments the region needs to make. Can't have both.

    The economics of austerity are failing the people of America. They're working real well for the corporations and the monied. Corporations are profitable and the stock market is doing quite well; it's just that there's no jobs, thank you very much.

    I'm afraid that if we don't stop this austerity-shtick the only other turnaround technique we'll have will be a wider-scale PermaWar. And that's not a Pittsburgh thing.

    In the meantime, transit and schools are.

    1. It seems like he's trying to cast a wide net in terms of audiences; coalition-building. I'll leave him to it. Lowering business taxes makes sense wherever those tax rates genuinely don't make sense and significantly impede investment, so long taxing things it makes sense to tax (broadening teh base?) is in effect.

  2. It's Bill Peduto's fault that Black Hoods suffer- Jack Wagner

  3. This is the toughest issue of our time. It requires long term investments in both education and community building (mini WPA programs). They already exist in many forms...they just dont have the capacity.

    As a business owner watching for opportunities, they are very diffuclt when you look at the demographics of jobs across many areas where education is the key to the job. Lets start by making TIFs and other public subsidies more connected to education and job development skills. Service workers unions need to do more to train employees and construction trade schools need to do more. They have proven they can.

    The rhetoric needs to be translated from over simplistic ineffective minority business development to minority job skills development. Not just labors and low skills but high skills too. We are not good at this like Germany.

    Its time to stop using this a political/racial football and be transparent about the realities...we can do more by being honest about the many are job ready? how many can be in 2-4 years? How many because of criminal and drug records might never get there? How many early childhood educators/mentors are needed? Lets talk numbers and techniques and do it not talk about it. The Harold Millers and ACCD types need to step up it up. No cracker plant or transit system will solve these issues if we are unable to create a workforce. Peduto gets it. Wagner is stuck in the old machine.

    1. Nice comment. Are you as bullish to expand the Pittsburgh Promise to provide universally accessible quality pre-K education as I have become? Regardless of who prevails in the coming contest, I greatly desire to see that as a clear objective and as a reality. I think it deserves a slice of the City's CDBG allocation IF the resultant programs are targeted at every level to maximize participation among those low-income communities.

  4. That pre-k bullishness is not our answer Bram.

    We should talk about this some day.

    1. I didn't claim silver bullet, but yes, I'd love to hear your concerns Mark. Coffee on the 22nd.