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Quick Notes about Pittsburgh

IMG_1983

Parrothead pastries at The Oakmont Bakery

There are a couple of posts in the NYTimes today that are full of praise for the economic recovery of Pittsburgh.  (Here and a Krugman post here.)  So, I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents.

First, I love it here.  People are just nicer than they are in Jersey.  And there are fewer of them.

Second, it is true that you can get higher incomes in places like Boston and San Francisco.  A lot of people who lost their good salaries in NJ due to Pharmageddon decided to try their luck in Massachusetts because that’s where all the lemming CEOs pharma companies relocated a fraction of their workforce and where there are a bunch of start up companies.  And I thought about that- for about 15 seconds.

Although the chances of finding a job up there for me is slightly greater than in NJ, job insecurity comes with it.  I heard from a lot of people who were transferred there or got a job in a start up there or were already working there and they hated it.  They were scared to death of losing their jobs, the cost of living was astronomical and the commute from the burbs to Cambridge proper is ridiculous.  It was even more ridiculous when you consider that even with their good salaries, they couldn’t afford to live close to work.  So, I crossed it off my list.  I didn’t want to drag a teenager to a place where I could lose another job and spend all my money on rent and taxes because my salary was high.  It sounded like an unreasonably risky thing to do for a job.  I have no idea what the bonus class is thinking but I think it has something to do with the status of being near Harvard and MIT.  In my humble opinion, that is not a good enough reason in the age of internet to risk your staff’s domestic security and increase its precariousness.  Precariats are under too much stress to be innovative creative types.  You can’t whip and threaten them and expect them to discover all the time.  Nah-gah-happen.

When I sat down and did the math, I figured that I could have the same standard of living in Pittsburgh, on a much more modest salary, as I would in Cambridge or NJ AND because I own my home without a mortgage, I am not in danger of losing my house if the job goes away.  I can eek out a living here as a bartender and still live reasonably well.  Fortunately, I won’t have to relearn how to pour but if I had to, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

So, I’m glad that Pittsburgh is now being held up as a model of urban renaissance because it deserves it, although it would be great if the bus capacity went back to what it was 20 years ago.

7 Responses

  1. Waiting for your response on the front page NY Times article today about how sending research to China is working out.

    • I think I commented on that last week but if you want to follow along, check out Derek Lowe’s blog, In The Pipeline. He’s been tracking GSK’s adventures in china regularly.
      And let’s not forget that the majority of the worlds pharma companies have also gone to china in recent years, so, I suspect that GSK is in the vanguard and problems will arise with all the others as well.

  2. I’m so glad that you like the changes you’ve made.
    There will be big changes coming in my and my consort’s life; God willing, we will be okay with them all.

  3. Great info regarding Pittsburgh.

  4. Considering the increasing petrol prices, at least over the long run, I very much doubt that bus capacity will ever get increased.

  5. You’re right about the Boston area not being right for everyone. My husband is also from PA, and at first he found the faster pace a bit overwhelming. But once he acclimated to it, he found being on the cutting edge in his field exciting. There are always trade-offs. While the cost of living is high, the salaries match, and a share of AT&T stock costs the same no matter where you live. But losing one’s livelihood mid-career can make one timid about taking chances, especially if one already starts out risk adverse. I’m sure you’ll be happy in Pittsburgh. There’s something that always feels right about being able to go home. And that’s the place they always have to let you in, right?

    • Elliesmom, is that you??
      Well, aren’t you the smug one? I suppose no one in NJ knows anything about working in a fast paced environment. Maybe YOU should try it someday. When was the last time you got a paycheck?
      I think you will find that none of us mind fast pace or challenging work. What we DO mind is the very real data that shows that no matter hard, fast or challenging the job is, your chances of retaining it is in no way related to performance. In the end, your just a number to a bean counter and when they decide your number is too high, pfffft, you’re gone. Your husband must be self-employed if he doesnt fear losing his job. Good for you. Enjoy it while it lasts and pray he doesn’t dump you for younger model and a bottle of Viagra.
      As for the rest of us, we like the idea of not losing everything we have if the job goes away. Call us spoiled for wanting food and shelter and stuff like that. people shouldn’t be forced to gamble away their childrens’ future for a job.

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