The way we are: Pittsburgh's economy is a source of encouragement

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In recent days, two interesting snapshots of the Pittsburgh region's economy have challenged or confirmed local impressions. How well are we doing and how are we doing it?

Encouragingly well, according to a Brookings Institution report titled Global MetroMonitor 2012. It reported that Pittsburgh is one of only three U.S. metropolitan areas to have recovered from the worldwide recession (Dallas and Knoxville, Tenn., were the others).

While it may not feel like happy days are here again, other indicators suggest that this news is no great surprise: Pittsburgh never suffered a burst bubble in real estate values and the building of Downtown apartments has been booming. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald puts the resilience down to having a diversified economy.

Manufacturing is only a small part of the mix and growing smaller. According to American Community Survey data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.3 percent of the Allegheny County workforce was employed in manufacturing, down from 9 percent in the 2000 census. Meanwhile, educational services, health care and social assistance -- the so-called meds and eds -- grew to an estimated 28.1 percent of those employed, up from 24.4 percent in 2000. The way we were is not the way we are.

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