Yes, some manufacturing jobs in Pittsburgh were replaced by high-end jobs in education or medicine. But many were replaced by jobs in hotels and food services -- jobs that never paid as well and proved even more vulnerable in the recent downturn. Some manufacturing jobs were never replaced at all. That helps explain why the city's population is declining, especially among youth, who seek opportunity elsewhere.
Two lessons from Pittsburgh are important for the United States and the G-20 Summit. We discuss them in our new report, Pittsburgh, G-20, and the New Economy -- Lessons to Learn, Choices to Make.
The first lesson is the importance of the real economy. America
grew up as an industrial superpower, from mass-produced automobiles to the
Arsenal of Democracy. But our once-robust system of economic production --
the invention, design and manufacture of products -- has been steadily eroded.
In its place has come an economy based on asset bubbles and foreign borrowing. That
economy was never sustainable and is no longer available.
We need to dispel the notion that America has moved beyond the production of goods. From cars to computers to refrigerators, a country needs things. If we don't make those things here, then someone else gets our money.