Rust Belt cities lure immigrants to restore growth
Detroit and other population-drained cities are trying to attract foreigners to resettle empty neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh was once a city of immigrants, lured to the smoke-filled town by the promise of steady work in the steel mills.
In the century since the last immigration boom, the mills have largely shut down and factory jobs have moved to places with cheaper labor. And Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities have suffered from what was once unthinkable: a population decline.
Now such industrial cities are betting a new influx of immigrants can help rescue them from woes of a collapsing population, such as a decimated tax base, abandoned houses and a decline in services. Detroit, perhaps the poster city for the ill effects of a population meltdown, was the focus of a grim new report on Sunday that said the city faces a bleak future.
It's little wonder, then, that Pittsburgh, Detroit, St. Louis and other Rust Belt cities are making a concerted effort to welcome immigrants.
"We've had neighborhoods decimated by population loss, and the only way we rebuild is by bringing new people here," Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto told The Wall Street Journal.
Some cities are hiring staffers to work on luring newcomers, while others are trying to find jobs for international students at local businesses, The Journal notes. The Rust Belt has largely missed out on an immigration boom that has boosted the country's foreign-born population by 25% during the past decade.
Pittsburgh's population declined by 8.6% from 2000 to 2010, according to the University of Pittsburgh. Detroit's losses were even worse, with 25% of its population leaving what was once the country's fourth-largest city. Still known as Motown, Detroit has been hit hard by job losses from automakers such as Ford (F) and Chrysler.
The nonprofit Global Detroit is working to revitalize the city by welcoming immigrants and foreign trade, while Pittsburgh has the nonprofit Vibrant Pittsburgh seeking to recruit foreign-born workers to the city.
But as the Journal notes, it's not always clear whether immigrants add to the labor pool or take jobs that native workers would have otherwise held. There's also concern that native residents in the Rust Belt might feel resentful and fear being left behind.
Still, for some struggling cities, trying to attract immigrants is a last-ditch effort to keep the economic situation from getting even more dire.
Or, as Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, wrote in his report on Sunday: "What is clear . . . is that continuing along the current path is an ill-advised and unacceptable course of action if the city is to be put on the path to a sustainable future."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
It’s time for Lady Liberty to retire. We do not need any more of the worlds tired or poor; huddled masses, wretched refuse or homeless, we have enough of our own. If you have not yet grasped the concept of freedom and liberty in your own country, that’s your problem. We have more than enough of those who have stolen and cheated their way into this country. We do not have enough jobs for our own true citizens. Put the word out… The U.S.A is full; we don’t want you or need you, stay home.
Restore growth by having America's middleclass work harder with longer hours, and lose and liquidate their savings and property assets to have for these new people's needs?
Anyway our money will wind up being funneled into Wall Street to be skimmed from by the upper 1 percent. I guess that's what they call growth these days.
Unions ( MAFIA ) are just trying to increase their base for democrats!
"dear" someone, "dear" someone....??
The "someone" jdmeck, has severe mental problems, and a Third Reich attitude..
Probably should be locked up.....Maybe is ??
And RUstpd...So the Siberians came from Africa, AND YOUR POINT WOULD BE ??
Yes there were Native Americans upon the Lands of the Americas,long before the Euro-trash arrived.
Many of the Indians, had quite well developed Cultures comparable to the rest of the World.
Some were well more advanced..With Tribal Governments and Councils and Religions they believed in.
Several of the Immigrants to this Nation, adopted many of their principals...
Other immigrants only became a scourge to the America's Indians...
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Equities began the day on a cautious note amid continued concerns regarding the strength of the global economy. Over the weekend, China reported its first decline ... More
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