Pittsburgh’s Economy Increasingly Fueled by Tech, Energy

Business scorecard tallies billions of dollars in investment, continuing job growth

By BlueSkyStaff

Published August 9, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins


The scorecard is in: 2018 marked the strongest year for job growth in the Pittsburgh region since 2012.

With more than 7,660 new jobs created in five key business sectors last year, the growth continues a positive jobs trend, according to the Annual Pittsburgh Region Business Investment Scorecard.

Each year, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the economic development marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, compiles the scorecard from economic data across the 10-county Pittsburgh region, tracking new investments, projects and jobs across five key sectors: Tech & Robotics, Advanced Manufacturing, Financial & Business Services, Energy, and Healthcare & Life Sciences.

“One of the most frequent questions we get is, ‘Which businesses are growing and expanding in the region?’” said Jim Futrell, the vice president of market research and analysis for the Allegheny Conference. “For companies looking to come here, it’s a way they can size up the competitive environment for resources.”

One of the resources Pittsburgh offers businesses is the skilled workforce emerging from top-tier colleges and universities in the area. Attracted by this talent pool, high-profile tech firms are flocking to the region, creating more than 2,800 new jobs in 2018.

“We’re building a tech ecosystem — a tech hub,” said Philip Cynar, senior communications specialist for the Allegheny Conference. “It attracts high-end talent from across the country and around the world, which then attracts those who want to work in the shadow of such greatness.”

World-renowned companies like Amazon and Facebook, as well as emerging firms like Bossa Nova Robotics and IAM Robotics, are driving competition for skilled employees in the area. Employees in Pittsburgh’s tech and robotics sector are earning nearly double the average wage of $53,900 in the region.

These high-demand jobs have a multiplier effect in the area, attracting other industries and career fields. According to the scorecard, each tech sector job directly and indirectly supports nearly three other jobs, for a total of more than 101,000 jobs supported in the Pittsburgh region.

Tech jobs tend to be in the city, while advanced manufacturing and energy tend to be in neighboring counties, Cynar said.

High-profile tech firms fueled more than 2,800 new jobs in 2018. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Manufacturing, Energy Continue to Grow

While many have written off Pittsburgh’s manufacturing roots, it continues to be the second-most active sector for deals across southwestern Pennsylvania. Advanced manufacturing leads capital expenditures with investments of $252 million announced in the region in 2018, 33 percent higher than 2017.

“A lot of people think that manufacturing is largely dead here,” said Futrell. “We’re not getting announcements of 500 or 1,000-person assembly plants; what we get are more technology intensive: two-, three-, four dozen-people facilities. They’re smaller facilities in terms of jobs, but they’re bringing in a much more highly skilled workforce.”

The energy sector also continues to be a major magnet for skilled workers in the region. New and growing energy companies are attracting hundreds of specialized construction workers from other places – as well as creating opportunities for regional residents – when it comes to installing pipelines and compressor stations, for example.

That influx of energy businesses and workers drove $2 billion in investments in energy-related infrastructure last year alone.

In all, across the five key sectors tracked in the scorecard, more than $3.8 billion was capitalized across 340 business deals that continue to fuel the Pittsburgh region’s growth. These sectors not only generate revenue, but they inspire related development in critical areas such as infrastructure – including airports, bridges, highways and rail – needed to support the growing profile of Pittsburgh.

If the scorecard is any indicator, the secret sauce to Pittsburgh’s success comes from its people and diverse economy.

“Diversity is a good thing, particularly within an economy,” said Cynar. “We’re not a one-act place. We can be a lot of things to a lot of businesses. To a lot of people who are looking for talent or looking for career opportunities, we’ve got the full spectrum of things that make our economy go ’round.”

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