Report: In East End, Bloomfield Has Lowest Unemployment Rate; Larimer Has Highest

Sep 15, 2014

With its densely clustered row houses and narrow streets, Bloomfield is the most populous of the East End neighborhoods.
Credit Flickr user Stephen Grebinski

If you work in one of Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods, there’s about a 50-50 chance that you work in health care or social assistance industries.

But chances are, if you work in the East End, you don’t actually live there. And if you live there, you probably don’t work there.

That’s according to a new report from the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, 3RWIB for short, which finds that 48.7 percent of East End jobs are in health care and social assistance. Just 6 percent of the area’s jobs are held by residents, and nearly 90 percent of residents leave the East End for work.

“We haven’t made a conscious decision to say we are going to create a place where you live, you work, you play, you stay in your community and be part of your community,” said 3RWIB CEO Stefani Pashman. “Instead we have a culture where we encourage people to travel, and Pittsburgh is very notorious for this spatial misalignment of people moving in and out of their neighborhoods rather than finding ways to stay there.”

The study was commissioned by East Liberty Development, Inc. and the Pittsburgh Foundation, two organizations planning for future development in the East End. Additionally, 3RWIB is a partner in the $30 million Choice Neighborhood Grant awarded to Larimer by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“It’s important to understand what’s going on at the community level so we can appropriately guide folks into jobs and careers,” Pashman said.

For the purposes of the study, East End was defined as Bloomfield, East Liberty, Garfield, Homewood North, Homewood South, Homewood West, Larimer and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar.

Bloomfield boasted the highest labor force participation rate at 69.5 percent and the lowest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent. Pittsburgh’s Little Italy neighborhood also has the highest annual median income at $36,222. Additionally, its residents are younger, more educated, and less racially diverse than other East End neighborhoods.

“I think on the other end of the spectrum in Larimer and in Homewood, particularly Homewood West and South, we see very high unemployment rates, we see very few people working, we see very low income levels, very low educational levels,” Pashman said. “Particularly in Homewood South, we see a lot of older residents over age 55.”

Residents in these neighborhoods are most in need of the job training and educational opportunities recommended by the study. Some of the proposed initiatives include the development of “soft skills” related seeking work, like resume writing and interview preparedness. The report also suggests that job training should be driven by employer demand, and in the long term, a focus on early career awareness and exposure for K-12 students as well as family-oriented programming.

“There are about 275 organizations that are supporting different community aspects within the East End, which gives us a terrific opportunity for partnership, leverage, and connectivity, but I think we need to think more broadly about how to make that happen,” Pashman said.