Jim Kunz, business manager for operating engineers’ union Local 66 in Pittsburgh, has reason to believe the recession will not hit his city as hard as others. So far, only 400 of the 5,200 members of his local actively pursuing work are out of a job. And Pittsburgh overall may have reason to share his optimism, long ago having diversified its business base and also learning to live with and recover from the decline of its steel industry.
Home values never surged in Pittsburgh they way they did in other markets, and homebuilding consequently has not crashed as badly. Last year, first-time homebuyers actually reduced the inventory of unsold homes in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburb by 1%. Bankruptcies in Pittsburgh were only slightly higher in 2008 than in 2007, way below the 54% national increase for the same period.