« Erie: A Public Backlash Against Convention-Center Economics? | Main | A Museum on the Allegheny: If You Build it...??? »


Jonathan Barnes

People in this region, in general, won't drive two hours to work. They are sane people.
With all those sleep-deprived folks in D.C., it's no wonder the government's a mess.

sean mcdaniel

i agree with j. potts. we're not killing ourselves around here to get ahead. most in the region are just looking to get by. but i had a friend who lived in frederick. her husband commuted more than an hour each way to work in baltimore. the money was great. but the life was lousy (and far more expensive than here). the kicked the status and career move habits and returned to pgh...even though both are from columbus.

Sam M

Yeah, it's amazing what people will do to themselves. Just think about where you could live if you WERE willing to drive that long. Erie? Good heavens, the "metropolitan area" would be the size of Kansas.

And it keeps going. You could live two hours north of here. And let's say your spouse was willing to drive the same amount of time but found a job in the opposite direction. That means you could have a couple, living in the same house, with one working in Pittsburgh and one working in Buffalo.

As for Frederick, I bet the commute to Baltimore is longer than an hour now. The whole I-70 corridor is filling up with urban expats in search of affordable housing.

I think it's worth noting--although it is obvious--that these are not really the wheelers and dealers. You know, the think-tank presidents or the corporate executives. Those people can afford the city. Or at least close suburbs. Lots of nice little enclaves in DC and Baltimore.

So why do people do it? Why drive two hours to be a middle manager or an administrative assistant? I mean, you cannot even take advantage of the city living way out in the sticks, so it can't be for nice restaurants and the theater.

As far as I can tell, the average job does in fact pay quite a bit more in DC. My wife, for instance, could be making about $4 or $5 more per hour as a nurse.

And there is the perception that you can move up. And that there is a broad enough job base that both members of a household can find work.

Thing is, people are willing to do an awful lot for a job. Doesn't really matter where they live or how far they have to drive. They'll do it for work.

Think about it. All those people moved to Pittsburgh for work in the Big Steel era, despite the whole "hell with the lid taken off" thing.

Which goes back to why I wonder about spending all this money on "buzz" and building fancy amenities. All sorts of people moved to Silicon Valley. And a whole lot of Silicon Valley really, really sucked. It's not all that pretty. And whole swaths were empty. But people went there and worked and eventually built their own amenities.

That is, I think the buzz is the cart and the jobs are the horse.

Again, to simplify: If there are enough good jobs, it doesn't matter if the city in question is a complete crap hole. People will move there.

A simple thought experiment. It's far fetched, but stay with me: Say the ET Works in Braddock decided to expand. And feeling generous, they decided to offer workers $30 an hour and three weeks vacation. The plan called for 10,000 new workers. And as a kind of civic experiment similar to ones run during the industrial revolution (Lowell, Mass.), the owners decided that, as a condition of employment, you had to live in Braddock.

Do you think people would move to Braddock?

I do.

Similarly, lets say the new proposal for high-end housing in downtown Pittsburgh falls through. But at the same time Carnegie Mellon scores a big defense contract and has to hire 1,000 new engineers and professors and 5,000 support staff.

Do you think the lack of high-end condos is going to be a serious impediment to filling those university jobs?

I don't.

Amos the Poker Cat

I can name dozens and dozens of people I know that commute more than two hours on a weekly basis for work. I know people who have commuted to DC on a weekly basis for almost 30 years. It takes me about 8 hours from home door to work door to commute to Denver. I probably make a minimum of 50% more than what I would get in PIT. My psuedo-wife is also a nurse. In 1998, we moved back, and she toke a 30% cut then.

Don't forget the non-appreciation of real estate in PIT.

The comments to this entry are closed.