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Editorial: How the jobs we do change |

Editorial: How the jobs we do change


With the tariff war currently waging between the United States and many of its former friends, allies and enemies, it seems prudent to look at how the jobs that keep food on the table have changed over the years.

Pittsburgh has seen its fortunes rise and fall more than once over 200-plus years.

Early on, the area was rich with farming. In the early 1800s, a booming manufacturing tradition began, growing a town into a city. The coal industry supported the metal work, then later fed the trains.

There were ways that the unions built Pittsburgh and ways they held it back. Environmental concerns did the same. Immigration swelled different ranks, easily traced to the city’s ethnic neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh’s fortunes rose and fell with the railroads, then the war, and another war.

And as many of the steel furnaces stopped glowing, Pittsburgh changed again. Today it is a college town, a research town, a medical town, an insurance town, a tech town, an arts town, a food town, a sports town, a tourism town. Steel is on the list, but has fallen out of the top 10, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Allegheny and the other counties it touches have grown, evolved, changed to survive.

That has happened at a rate consistent with the rest of the country. For June 2018, the latest month with statistics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts Allegheny County at 4.2 percent unemployment, exactly the same as the national level. Surrounding counties are within a few decimals, with Butler at 4.0, Westmoreland at 4.6. Fayette is the outlier at 5.7.

Pittsburgh and her sister communities have succeeded through will, and a commitment to keep putting that food on the table. Other cities could take a lesson from the area and its workers, who don’t take a pink slip for an answer.

So on Labor Day, all of you — clock-punchers and white collars, self-employed and CEO, hard hats and lab coats alike — take your well-deserved extra day of rest. Then come back Tuesday and keep finding a way to make it all work.

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