By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s really a good news, bad news story – the tale of how Pittsburgh is surviving this awful economic recession.

“Generally speaking, our unemployment rate is lower than elsewhere,” Chris Briem, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.

“Jobs have been fairly stable compared to other places which have been hit really hard by the recession.”

Briem says the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds this region is better than most when it comes to poverty.

“We’ve weathered the recession a lot better than a lot of other regions. Poverty isn’t going up like it is in a lot of the country. Median income is stable.”

While the national poverty rate rose to 15.5 percent last year, the local poverty rate here dropped to 12.2 percent.

But Sister Liguori Rossner, founder of the Jubilee Kitchen, sees it differently.

“We spent 50 percent more on food this year than last year.”

She sees more people who just can’t make it.

“We know that wages are frozen in most instances, but bills — electric, water, whatever — are going up,” she said. “Food is going up.”

The survey seems to confirm that low wages and pay freezes here have put us below the national median household income.

While the national median household income is $50,000, our median is $46,700.

No matter what all these government statistics say, what is really important to most people and their families is how they’re doing financially.

Do they feel good about themselves and their family situation? Are they better off now than they were a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago?

That really is the only measure of whether we, as a people, are feeling good about our own economic lives.

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U.S. Census Bureau: 2010 American Community Survey

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