By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pittsburgh landed itself on a fairly exclusive list this week, potentially thanks to gas drilling job creation.
It’s one of only three cities in the U.S. that’s recovered from the recession, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
The report analyzed GDP per capita and employment changes from 2011 to 2012 for the world’s largest 300 metropolitan economies.
It found only three U.S. cities – Pittsburgh, Dallas and Knoxville, Tenn., – have reached their pre-2007 levels for both GDP per capita and employment. The same was true for two Canadian cities, Edmonton and Vancouver.
In Pittsburgh, the number of total private jobs grew by 2.6 percent in 2010 and 2011, said Frank Gamrat, a senior research analyst with the Pittsburgh-based research organization Allegheny Institute.
They’re not numbers “worth throwing a party over,” but it’s better than most places, Gamrat said.
Fueling that figure is gas drilling jobs. There were 10,100 mining jobs in the region as of October 2012, Gramt said, which includes gas drilling and other resource extraction. The year prior, there were at 8,900.
Before drillers expanded operations in the area in 2008, there were no more than 4,000 mining jobs in the region, Gamrat said.
“They’re the ones really driving the economic recovery here in our area,” Gamrat said of gas drillers. “We’ve seen a lot of growth thanks to them.”
Washington County, part of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, is the third busiest drilling county in the state behind Tioga and Bradford counties in the Northern Tier, Gamrat said.
Modest increases in manufacturing jobs over the last several years have also helped make up the difference from mill and U.S. Airways jobs that were lost in the 90s and early 2000s.
Gamrat said there’s more work to be done to attract new businesses to Pittsburgh, partially on state tax structures.
But, the region has had a unique economic development history., playing into it’s current growth.
“We never boomed when everyone else was booming, so we didn’t bust when everyone else busted,” Gamrat said.
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