Good news for Pittsburghers: more people are joining the workforce and they’re getting paid more.
At a 1.3 percent growth, Pittsburgh had the second highest increase of weekly wages compared to the same quarter last year, only behind Cincinnati, which had a 1.4 percent growth.
This is according to Pittsburgh Today, a regional analytical organization that compares the city to 14 benchmark areas around the country with categories ranging from arts and environment to government and economy.
Douglas Heuck, the director of Pittsburgh Today, said the city’s labor force is the highest it has ever been, and it is increasing.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force in Pittsburgh was 1,292,992 by July of this year, compared to the 1,276,600 in July of 2012.
“So when you see a very strong and robust labor force growth and you see wage growth, that tells you that there’s demand in our economy, which really has been a characteristic of our economy throughout this recovery from the great recession, and kind of in an anomalous way,” Heuck said.
He said he does not see the need to be concerned that businesses will find the city too expensive because Pittsburgh is still not considered a “high-wage area” and has a low cost of living.
According to the organization, Pittsburgh was the second lowest city for cost of living during the second quarter of 2013 at 93.7 percent.
“I think we have a long way to go before we price ourselves out of the market, I think Pittsburgh’s still attractive and I think probably what’s attractive, what will remain attractive, to employers even as wages — we hope — continue to grow is the relative quality of the workforce,” Heuck said.
He said the labor force has grown because job growth has been pretty strong in Pittsburgh compared to other cities during the economic recovery.
“We have seen people moving here the last couple of years, more people moving in than away. Those tend to be younger people who are more mobile, they’re less likely to be underwater in terms of a mortgage in another city,” Heuck said.
He said there are also people here who are rejoining and reentering the labor force.
“It’s one of those key quality of life and sustainability measures,” Heuck said. “When your wages are growing, that means that your people are doing better, and when they’re beating the rave inflation, that’s a good thing.”
Detroit and Charlotte, N.C. had the lowest average weekly wages.