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Pittsburgh Is Top Ten for Job Seekers While Philly Can’t Make Top 100. Why?

The Eagles may fly, and the Steelers may stink, but when it comes to jobs, Pittsburgh is kicking Philly’s economic aspirations.

The question is, why?

A new WalletHub data analysis ranked Pittsburgh as the eighth-best city in America for job seekers, while Philadelphia was far in the back of the pack at 142nd. It’s not just that Philly is trailing the Steel City. The Delaware Valley’s economic hub can’t keep up with Rochester, N.Y., Toledo, Ohio, or Jersey City, N.J.

Now that hurts.

America’s top city for jobseekers is Scottsdale, Ariz., followed by Tampa, Salt Lake City, and Columbia, Md.

“The stark contrast between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the 2024 job market rankings highlights the critical role of location in shaping employment prospects,” said Wallet Hub analyst Cassandra Happe. “With Pittsburgh securing an impressive 8th position and Philadelphia lagging at 142, the disparity underscores the multifaceted nature of job markets, encompassing factors such as job opportunities, employment growth, and socio-economic conditions.”

Allegheny Councilman Sam DeMarco III said some reasons for Pittsburgh’s favorability for job seekers are a higher unemployment rate of 3.7 to Philadelphia’s 3.5. There’s also a larger portion of aging residents in Pittsburgh, with 15.1 percent 65 or older compared to 14 percent in Philadelphia.

Allegheny County has also lost 12,000 residents in the last decade, DeMarco noted.

“We have a tight labor market,” said DeMarco. He noted a 2016 report on the Pittsburgh-area labor market showed those trends, saying more skilled employees are needed as Baby Boomers retire.

None of the Philadelphia city officials contacted by DVJournal would comment. Nor would the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Perhaps out of embarrassment?

Not all the news about Philly is bad, said Happe. “Philadelphia has a higher monthly average starting salary and industry variety” than Pittsburgh, she said.

However, “Pittsburgh excels in job opportunities, employment growth, lower unemployment rate, higher job security, higher median annual income, and slightly shorter work and commute time,” said Happe. “These factors contribute to the overall contrast in their rankings for the best cities for jobs in 2024.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday the total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in December, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent.

Employment continued growing in government, health care, social assistance, and construction, while transportation and warehousing lost jobs.

Ralph E. McKinney at Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business said he believes fields associated with personal services “will see the greatest growth.”

“The healthcare industry has a critical need for nurses, caregivers, and supportive specialists. Although AI can process information more quickly than human counterparts, there is a need for individuals to supervise and review analysis. Finally, occupations in the trades (e.g., electricians, plumbers, and welders) are expected to increase,” McKinney said.

WalletHub also ranked Pittsburgh high in its best and worst places to start a career. The Steel City came in at 10th place, with Atlanta as the best. Philadelphia came in at 121.

The website used data ranging from unemployment rates to median salaries to housing and transportation costs in its evaluation.

DeMarco noted Pittsburgh has all the advantages of city life, such as cultural amenities and top-notch medical facilities, with a much lower crime rate than Philadelphia. With 300,400 residents, there were 52 murders last year.   Philadelphia had 410 homicides with 1.5 million residents.

“Crime is nowhere near as bad as Philly,” said DeMarco.

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McCormick Makes It Official; Will Take on Casey in ’24

Dave McCormick hopes the second time is a charm.

McCormick, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2022 and lost by fewer than 1,000 votes to Dr. Mehmet Oz in the GOP primary, announced Thursday in Pittsburgh that he is running again, this time to take on three-term Democrat Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

“Under Joe Biden and Bob Casey, what’s supposed to be up is down, and what’s supposed to be down is up. We can and must do better,” McCormick said in his announcement. “We cannot lose our country. We cannot lose our culture. We cannot accept the status quo.

“When Joe Biden says ‘vote,’ Bob Casey says ‘which way?’” McCormick added.

Even before he announced, McCormick, 58, garnered the endorsement of Americans for Prosperity Action, a PAC affiliated with the free market organization Americans for Prosperity. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) greeted McCormick’s announcement as good news.

“Dave McCormick has done a remarkable job of unifying the grassroots in Pennsylvania,” said NRSC chairman Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) “A graduate of West Point, combat veteran, and Pennsylvania job creator, Dave is exactly the type of candidate who can win both a primary and a general election in one of the most competitive states in the country. It’s great news that Dave is stepping up to serve our country once again.”

National Republicans are hoping the Pennsylvania GOP can rally around McCormick’s candidacy and avoid an ugly primary, one that might result in yet another flawed general election candidate like Oz or 2022 gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano. On Monday, Mastriano told conservative news outlet Real America’s Voice, “It’s time to unify. If [McCormick] is our nominee, I’m backing him.”

McCormick’s candidacy is particularly important because it is in a state like Ohio, Montana, and West Virginia, where Trump is expected to do well if he is the Republican presidential nominee next year. All four of those states have incumbent Democratic senators seeking reelection, and the GOP just needs to flip two to win the majority.

Democrats clearly see McCormick as a serious threat, and they wasted no time going on the attack.

“Pennsylvania leaders speak out against Connecticut mega-millionaire David McCormick,” screamed the headline of one of several press releases fired off by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Thursday.

“We know that this person is a Connecticut resident. If you want to run for U.S. Senate, go to Connecticut to run for U.S. Senate,” said state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Pittsburgh). “Don’t come to be a carpetbagger here in Pennsylvania.”

In fact, McCormick was born in Washington, Pa., and grew up in Bloomsburg. After being awarded a Bronze Star for his service in the Persian Gulf War and earning a Ph.D. in international relations from Princeton, he returned to Pennsylvania and worked in Pittsburgh.

“I definitely have strong feelings about Dave McCormick,” said Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County GOP. “He’s just the perfect combination. Number one, he’s a businessman. Number two, he was in the Army. He knows what the military needs. He’s a decorated guy. And he was a business person in a tough arena, also. When he went to Bridgewater (a hedge fund), it wasn’t the smoothest stuff. So he turned that business around.”

Radnor businessman Austin Hepburn supported McCormick during his first run for the Senate and said he “100 percent” supports McCormick today.

“Dave is a very intelligent guy,” said Hepburn. “Dave has good insight into how our economy works and into government.”

And Hepburn said McCormick would also be good on foreign policy. “We’re losing friends,” said Hepburn. “Blowing up the Nord Stream 2. The war in Ukraine. We need to turn over a new leaf.”

He predicted “incredible turnout in 2024.”

“People who voted for Biden are seeing things more clearly now,” said Hepburn. “We need smart people in Washington, and Dave’s a smart person.”

Veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy, who advised the John McCain and Jeb Bush presidential campaigns, says the 2024 presidential race presents a mixed bag for McCormick’s prospects.

“I think Trump will be a heavy anchor around McCormick’s neck in the all-important Philly suburbs,” Murphy said. “On the other hand, unless Biden’s numbers on the economy get better, the president will struggle statewide in Pennsylvania as well.”

Will Hydrogen Hub Come to Philly?

The Delaware Valley is known for many things, and some are hoping to add another title for the region: Hydrogen Hub.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) promotes hydrogen hubs as a “central driver” in helping communities benefit from clean energy investments, good-paying jobs, and improved energy security. The nationwide plan calls for six to 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs funded by billions of tax dollars.

The deadline to file a proposal for a hydrogen hub with the DOE was April 7. Two proposals have emerged in the commonwealth. One is in Pittsburgh, the other an effort involving southeast Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware called the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2). By all accounts, the idea has many fans.

That includes the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, which stated support for the hub and the money it could bring to the region.

“We definitely see it as a good economic opportunity for the region,” says Hasna Achik, manager of economic competitiveness and energy initiatives at the chamber. “As far as job creation, this was between 20,000 and 25,000 jobs in our region, and it would be a mix of blue-collar and white-collar jobs.”

Jim Snell, Steamfitters Local 420 Business and MACH2 core team member has no doubt it can be done.

“Looking at southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware, and southern New Jersey as a whole, we have the critical infrastructure and the skilled, motivated labor force needed,” Snell told the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance (DESCA) in November 2022.

“Clean hydrogen hubs will create networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier that can deliver or store tremendous amounts of energy,” says DOE on its website. “The production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen, including innovative uses in the industrial sector, are crucial to DOE’s strategy for achieving President Biden’s goal of a 100 percent clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Biden believes the earth is warming but that humanity can combat the situation by curbing emissions and replacing fossil fuels with alternative energies.

Marcellus Shale Coalition also supports awarding hydrogen hubs that can encourage development in Pennsylvania. With the environment weighing on a lot of minds, Marcellus Shale Coalition says Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources are the cleanest in the nation while at the same time providing a viable feedstock for hydrogen production. Match that with proximity to markets and the area’s workforce, and Marcellus Shale Coalition calls the state a logical choice to produce clean hydrogen and deploy carbon capture facilities.

“Hydrogen derived from natural gas and carbon capture can be effective tools to decarbonize key sectors of the Pennsylvania economy, promote growth, and serve as a model for the rest of the nation,” says Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Some organizations do urge caution. While the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania believes that hydrogen will have a role to play for certain energy uses that are hard to decarbonize with other technology like steel making, international shipping, and possibly for long-term renewable energy storage, state director Tom Schuster says there are many proposed uses for which hydrogen is inefficient, unhealthy, or even dangerous compared to using electricity directly.

For example, Schuster says using methane to create hydrogen, even with carbon capture, could increase rather than decrease overall greenhouse gas emissions if the hydrogen is misused, such as in combustion turbines for generating electricity or for heating buildings. As a result, Schuster is concerned that a “rush to create a large supply of hydrogen without carefully considering appropriate end uses” could be counterproductive to climate goals.

Still, industry groups such as Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) think a hydrogen hub in Pennsylvania would position the region as a leader in low-carbon manufacturing and ensure Appalachia and the Mid-Atlantic remains an energy powerhouse for years to come.

“The economic growth stemming from this type of project will prove beneficial to communities throughout Pennsylvania where growth has been stagnant, and unemployment has been prevalent,” says PMA executive director Carl Marrara. “Now more than ever, we need to put our nation’s resources to work for American job creators and consumers. Unleashing American energy leadership through developing hydrogen hubs in our region is essential for our commonwealth and the United States as a whole.”

The DOE told Delaware Valley Journal it plans to announce which projects were selected in the fall.

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