The Rustbelt, Again?
Yang Sook, owner of Seoul Mart in Pittsburgh
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Seoul Mart, a corner grocery store, opened last year along a busy street that runs between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. Owner Yang Sook, a Korean immigrant, says the store sells a lot of ramen noodles and kimchi to its customers, mostly young Asians. "Not only Korean students, they are Chinese, Thai, Philippine, Japanese."
A century ago, immigrants poured into Pittsburgh, almost all of them from Europe. Only one in 100 was from Asia. Now it's one in five. But the city's overall immigration rate is well below the national average, and that's a problem. In a study, Duquesne University said within a decade, the city may face a labor shortage of up to125,000 workers. Skilled jobs are already going unfilled.
"This region has profited from immigration over the past 20 to 30 years, [but] not in the numbers, particularly in the '90s, that were a reality for many of the Sunbelt areas, California and Silicon Valley and so on," says Schuyler Foerster, head of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. "We're not going to have a workforce large enough, with the right kinds of skills, to be able to remain competitive as a region, particularly as the nature of global competition changes. We're just going to be short of people."