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Pittsburgh, PA
MSA: Pittsburgh, PA
Best places ranking: #2 among large metro areas
Population: 2,351,192
Greater Pittsburgh is home to a workforce with hard-won manufacturing skills from the city's steelmaking past. Need machinists? They're here -- and that's a draw for small businesses.

The region combines that talent pool with a mix of highly educated students from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University and Duquesne University. Those institutions helped make Pittsburgh a leader in robotics, healthcare, and artificial intelligence. Locals cite the city's culture as one of its biggest selling points: There are tight-knit neighborhoods, many built around eastern European communities that prize a strong work ethic.

Most of the city's small businesses are family-owned concerns that have morphed to serve new markets. Resources like the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence help both startups and generations-old companies get the skills they need. Pittsburgh's location on major North-South and East-West interstates connects companies with distant markets and suppliers.

State taxes aren't low, and the recession-fueled tax shortfall hurts: The state may have to take over Pittsburgh's pension system. But small businesses say the local workforce is resilient, and with valuable, transferrable skills.

Native Pittsburghers often stick around to raise their own families. It can be hard to retain outsiders, through -- those drawn from elsewhere to Pittsburgh's world-class educational institutions typically collect their degrees and leave. -Barbara Darrow

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Pittsburgh, PA


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Citizens Financial Group
  • PNC Financial Services Group
  • F.N.B. Corporation
  • Huntington Bancshares Incorpor
  • Enterprise Financial Services
See all local lenders

Pittsburgh Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
57,272 78,289
Small business growth rate
-0.4% 5.3%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
28 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
38% 32.7%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
362 537.6
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
2,185.9 3,700.0
Population growth
-2.0% 6.38%
Per-capita income
$41,206 $41,342
Per-capita income growth
27.7% 25.0%
GDP (in millions)
$106,496 $164,601
GDP growth
24% 32%
Average hourly wage
$19.25 $21.03
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
190 113
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$763 $981
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.2% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.3% 1.9%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-13.1% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"The seven-county area here has a lot going for it, and Pittsburgh is the star of western Pennsylvania. Everyone talks about Pittsburgh's universities, and of course they turn out well-educated students ready to go. " -Georgia Berner
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Pittsburgh?
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Do you prefer a place that is: Small Medium Large
The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's