Southwestern Pennsylvanian is an outlier among U.S. metropolitan regions when racial and ethnic diversity is the measure. Less than 14 percent of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area population is African American, Asian, Hispanic and people of mixed race. In none of the other 14 Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions do minorities claim a smaller slice of the population.
An earlier examination of national employment data by the Regional Workforce Diversity Indicators Initiative also reveals a southwestern Pennsylvania workforce struggling to look like the rest of the nation and to enable racial and ethnic minorities to claim a greater share of the jobs, careers and wealth the regional economy has to offer.
Racial and ethnic minorities hold only 11 percent of the jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania—a smaller share than what minorities hold in any of the other benchmark regions, according to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators.
To put that in perspective, minority workers claim an average of 25 percent of the jobs across those benchmark regions. In Cleveland, they hold 21 percent of the jobs; in Baltimore, 37 percent; and in Atlanta, 44 percent.
Several employment sectors where minorities in southwestern Pennsylvania tend to cluster, such as food services, are found at the bottom of the average pay scale. At the same time, minority employment is strikingly low among some of the best-paying employers, such as utilities and the gas and oil industry.
And while minority participation in the workforce has risen in recent years, it’s grown at a pace slower than in many other regions.
Earlier this fall, more than 3,500 southwestern Pennsylvanians shared their views on racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace, the region and their neighborhoods in an online survey.
What emerges from the Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey is a complex portrait of a region where white workers, who hold 89 percent of the jobs, are less likely than minorities to strongly feel a diverse workplace is very important. And they tend to see the region as more a more diverse place and their employers as much more committed to diversity than what minorities have come to believe from their experiences living in southwestern Pennsylvania.
It’s a region where views within the minority population often differ, sometimes dramatically; a place where African Americans are the most likely of southwestern Pennsylvanians surveyed to place a high value on diversity, but are the least likely to feel the region and their workplace are very diverse and to feel welcome in the community.
It’s also a place where more than 77 percent of workers surveyed say their employers have adopted policies and goals that address diversity.
Ultimately, southwestern Pennsylvania is a region that more than 89 percent of residents overall say they’d definitely or probably recommend to others, despite its shortcomings—although those numbers, like many others, are dramatically different when viewed through the lens of race and ethnicity.
The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey
- Job Sectors
- Perspectives Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities
- Sexual Orientation
- Survey Methods
- Survey Data