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mjcatl2

Pittsburgh's Quiet Crisis

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I was looking at the most recent county population stats (released about a year ago) from the Census Bureau. Here's how the Pittsburgh metro looks:

-----------------------July 1, 2004 April 1, 2000 Number Percent

Allegheny County 1,250,867 1,281,666 30,799 -2.4

Armstrong County 71,395 72,392 -997 -1.4

Beaver County 178,601 181,412 -2,811 -1.5

Butler County 180,663 174,083 6,580 3.8

Fayette County 145,651 148,644 -2,993 -2.0

Washington County 205,738 202,897 2,841 1.4

Westmoreland County 368,660 369,993 -1,333 -0.4

-----------------------2,401,575 2,431,087 -29,512 -0.4

Now the Pgh metro stood at 2,356,300 (and change) in 2000 (which didn't include Armstrong Cty). If 2010 doesn't retroactively add Armstrong to the 2000 figure, then given the numbers above + 1 1/2 additional change (for the remaining 6 years) will be looking at 2,357,307 (which includes Armstrong).

This is sad and pathetic. Is there any reason to believe that anything, anything will happen in the next couple years to reverse Beaver County? Fayette County? Yeah Uniontown got some good news last week, but that not enough to add even a pitiful few thound people to the county.

Pittsburgh should at least, at least gain a low 1% a year increase. Can you imagine that? That would be a 10% increase and the region would be at over 2.6 million. And we can't even attain 1% for the decade.

I thought that thiswould be the decade of change and I know the bleeding is less severe, but we're still bleeding and the damage of decades of this is horrible. Now I didn't just discover these numbers as so much as I wanted to revisit them since we are past the half way mark of this decade. Pittsburgh can grow in the postive direction. There was brief period in the early 90s that proved that.

However, not only must the city/allegheny cty grow, but somehow some creativity is needed to make counties like Beaver and Fayette (and Westmoreland) also attractive for growth. 2010 doesn't have to be a net loss.

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I should add that the Cleveland Plain Dealer had series on its region dubbed the Quiet Crisis, about the "quiet" population drain the region and its effects and what can be done. I think that it's an appropriete term even if it is both quiet and well known.

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I should add that the Cleveland Plain Dealer had series on its region dubbed the Quiet Crisis, about the "quiet" population drain the region and its effects and what can be done. I think that it's an appropriete term even if it is both quiet and well known.

Isn't Cleveland metro growing?

Anyway, I wouldn't get too caught up in population loss. Its "right-sizing". SW PA grew big because of industrialization. Now its realigning itself with a service-based economy that employs fewer people.

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Isn't Cleveland metro growing?

Anyway, I wouldn't get too caught up in population loss. Its "right-sizing". SW PA grew big because of industrialization. Now its realigning itself with a service-based economy that employs fewer people.

No.

The Cleveland metro gained a tiny bit in the 90s after decades of loss... but now it's losing again... and it's economy is in much worse shape than Pittsburgh's. Nearby Akron metro is growing slowly, however.

I think the "right-sizing" argument is silly. Is Phoenix "right-sizing" itself after decades of insignificance? Is the population explosion of a city in a desert wasteland that can't support a fraction of its current inhabitants "right-sizing"? Is Charlotte... a city that was the size of Erie 50 years ago... right-sizing itself? What the heck is right-sizing? Either you're succeeding or you're failing. To claim that Pittsburgh is "right-sizing" through decline is to assert your belief that Pittsburgh is a minor, inferior city. This is not true. Pittsburgh was a REAL CITY when being a REAL CITY meant something. It has the urban fabric and cultural legacy that you will only find in the Top American cities of the pre-automobile era. Pittsburgh deserves much better than its current fate.

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Evergrey some good points,

however the "rightsizing" (first I heard of this term) is also valid.

As far as population, I am not as concerned with it as I am with JOB GROWTH, there are tons of counties in the sunbelt that have massive population growth, illegal immigration, retirees, below-the-poverty-line and out-of-wedlock births, etc. etc. The thing that produces constructive population increases is high and mid end job growth . . . although then you get into a chicken or the egg debate (where high end companies avoid regions where they have to import high end labor to grow in).

~~~

There is another more menancing trend to this that can not be avoided. Pittsburgh and the other "rust belt" (boy I have a love/hate relationship with that term) areas have missed the benefits (and the underpublicized harm) of masses of illegal immigration (re: CNN and FoxNews reporting). If you look at the native born families in the U.S. ONLY the United States is shrinking--in fact we are dying off. Our nation over the last generation has become addicted to an inflow of immigration legal or illegal and greater and greater quantities of it. This gets deep into politics and economics (as far as greater population making the areas macroeconomy improve regardless of how poor or uneducated the immigrants are), but it is important to note that a great majority of the sunbelts increase is not the kind of population growth we desire in Pittsburgh.

I have no problem with legal immigration and I do feel that although they are breaking the law, illegals are really just trying to provide for their family (what would you do if you were them), Pittsburgh does have a nice share of legal immigration of scientists, doctors, engineers etc. with our academic insititutions and corporate HQers.

I guess my big point here is that Pittsburgh and the rest of the E. Mid-West region reflects the true numbers of multi-generational America, people that have been here for more then a generation (including the latinos that came in during the 1960s and early 70s) are not having kids, not getting married until it is almost too late to have them, and not really planning a family any longer. Pittsburgh is a big victim of it just as Phoenix, LA, Houston and Miami but in different ways, Pittsburgh is dying off and much of those cities are being thrown into urban chaos of 4 different ways of language barriers and a virtual steroid overdose of multiculturalism at best and a total breakdown of law enforcement at worst.

I know I'm gonna toss a lightning rod out there right now but a great read on this is "The Death of the West". Wether you agree or disagree on it you can't argue with the facts that other nations (Europe is about a generation ahead of us on this trend and if you look at the 6 months of riots in France and the anarchy in some corners of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and even Great Britain then you take my point) that have sponsored having assimilated immigrants and native borns to stop having children and then began heavily relying on masses of immigration have taken a path to weakening themselves.

It is strange that Utah (host of the 2002 olympics) continues to compete with Pittsburgh and Cleveland as being among the safest areas, most educated, most literate, and yet is growing in population and economy. The reason? It is the only state that when you factor out foreign or state-to-state (largely retirees that at most is a break even on the regional economy) immigration (bye bye California's, Arizona's and Florida's big +s) is actually growing. Your mate may thank me for posting this in 12 hours ;)

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You can add 2 25-34 yo college educated people who moved here in October 2004, after that census count. And you can add them to the city population.

We moved here from Los Angeles as new urbanists based on many factors including cost of living and cultural attractions. We came here for the city's future and not the city's grimey industrial, blue collar past. The city is an environmental gem with plentiful moisture (unlike the southwest), a beautiful green landscape, a wealth of university and cultural opportunities and the potential to be a great 21st century city. There is quite a bit of stirring for change within the city borders. We live in Highland Park, next to East Liberty, and that area is undergoing quite a bit of change. Just as much change as we saw in many redeveloping parts of Los Angeles.

After reading this thread I was thinking of a few reasons why it is harder for this region to attract the bright young professionals and new residents than other areas. Notice I didn't say impossible because it is happening.

1) Negative Self Image- The city is not what it used it be. No it isn't. Get over it. No city is what it used to be. NYC in the 70s and 80s? Not a great place, but fantastic now. I've posted this before but I will say it again: Instead of asking someone why they moved here, say WELCOME!

2) Apathy- Only a handful of people are actually working towards change. Simply taking better care of your property and cleaning up can radiacally improve how neighborhoods feel.

3) Poor Customer Service- I can't tell you how many times I have been offended or not taken care of properly at restaurants, grocery stores, public offices, etc. I never experienced this to this extent in LA. I wonder if its the lack of immigrants who are actually grateful for the jobs they have, and increase the competion even for these basic yet important jobs.

4) High Taxes- Why does 2 percent of my income go towards schools and only 1 percent into the city for other uses? They tax property for the schools and income? I don't understand that. The school age population is shrinking, not growing. I don't even have children. In CA, there are not city income taxes. It works. It helps keep people in. More people would buy property and pay property tax if there were not these additional drains on income. Plus, the state tax system is draining on business as well. No business=no jobs.

5) Horrible Roads- Why is every road disintegrating? Where does the money for road repair come from? Who is managing it, and why do they still have their job? It just makes the image of the city even worse. Althought the 380 to downtown is great now!

6) The liquor laws in PA.- The way the state controls the sale of alcohol impedes the creation of a better nightlife/restaurant situation in our cities. Restaurants make the most profit on alcohol and dessert. If they can't sell alcohol then it is more difficult to make a profit. If there is a limited number of liquor licenses available there will be less bars/clubs etc. Young people like to go out, and they love new venues. No liquor license, no club. This is my petition for that:

http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/EndPALiquorControl/

7) Homophobia- In every vibrant city there is a strong flourishing gay community. They are the ones who go into old neighborhoods, restore them, open businesses, chase out crime, improve properties, and restore life to old yet great neighborhoods. They are sort of like the Marines! Just look at the Mexican War Street district. Gays are not treated well here, so they tend to go to the vibrant urban centers where they can flourish. Washington DC is a prime example. It would not have the renovations happening now without the gay community.

8) Weak Leadership- People keep voting in the same regime from the past. Perhaps its because of the high senior population, or just lack of research and imagination on the part of other voters.

9) Lack of public transit to populated urban centers- It should be a priority to connect the east end to downtown. Urbanites are more likely to use and demand these services than suburbanites. The bus routes are not enough. They are not efficent and take to long to get where they need to go. The whole bus system needs to be revamped.

10) Suburbanites/Fiefdom denizens trying to control the city.- If you live outside the city borders you do not get a say in how the city is run. You don't contribute to the city's future by armchair quarterbacking. If someone tells me that Pittsburgh should do this and that I always ask if they live in Pittsburgh. Mt. Lebanon isn't Pittsburgh, it Mt. Lebanon.

I know its a long post, but I think they are things that can be worked on and improved if people are at least discussing them. Thanks for reading!

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mercurypa, long post, but lots of good points.

I feel another issue with population decline is the second generation after the collapse of the steel industry. From 1980 to 1986 and a lttle latter, hundreds of thousands of people aged 20 to 40 moved away to make a living after their jobs disappeared. I lived in Beaver County. Half of some towns just moved away, Ambridge, Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Rochester, etc... The 20 to 40 year olds of course took their kids with them. Their kids are now having kids in the cities they relocated too, and not in Pittsburgh. I would like to see a breakdown of the PGH metro area population by age group. I would guess there is a noticeable dip in the age group of people who would now be 38 to about 58 years old. The very young and the older population stayed when the jobs disappeared in the early 80's. The people in their prime earning years moved where the jobs were and took their families.

I think PGH has already turned the corner in population loss and has at least stabilized if not started to grow a bit. I think this birth rate anomaly and the dying off of the aging population might be why the overall population is still slightly declining, but I would bet the younger age groups are showing growth and the statistics will start to show this in just a few short years.

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Thank you facilities. I think your theory has a lot of merit. Plus I have noticed a lot of difference in population between the city and the outer boroughs. The city seems to be a bit younger. I now shop at the remodeled Giant Eagle in Shadyside and most of the shoppers are young. Its a great new concept. More urban, a better selection, plus new housing almost done on top. I love it. I think the East Side is really where a lot of change is happening. Shadyside, East Liberty, Bloomfield.

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In the second half of the 90s, Pittsburgh gained 100,000 people. That sounds great until the fact that it is countered with the loss of 150,000. Net loss: 50,000

Again around 1993-94 (maybe 95) the population grew slightly. However, once the mid 90s boom started, the metro lost as many as 10,000 a year. Again people moved here, but not enough to off set the:

A) well above average senior population that are either died or moved to Florida

B) compete with opportunities that existed (and exist) in areas like DC.

C) as mentioned above, the lack of middle aged experienced managers and other professional skilled workers caused a concurrently less amount of start-ups and other momentum building progress.

Pittsburgh has man assets, including excellent universities and natural resources (for work and play).

The intangible character of older Northeastern cities is alive and well... we could go on about the positives, but until something is figured out to create jobs at a faster rate, this trend will continue. Pittsburgh's unique metro (surrounded by old industrial towns) adds to the problem. Again, we need creativity and a significant amount of investment to turn the Beaver Valley into something.

Great things are happening and the region is poised better than in recent years (or decades), but the generational loss must be countered with more than what is currently happening or we'll be reading more about our ever growing Steelers Nation.

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Great posts all around.

Mercurypa, as someone who move here close to three years ago from Boston with my wife, at the time 28 & 26, I am with you on most of your points. We live right where Bloomfield and Shadside meet and are loving all the new development.

I believe that more and more young professionals are moving away from the coasts due to the enormity of housing costs. There was an interesting article about it in USA today a few months ago and just last month, NBC nightly news did a 3 minute segment on this exact phenom. Plus most of our social circle are all transplants from Miami, NYC, San Fran, Boston etc.

I started an earlier topic about real estate but it didn't get much attention. Pittsburgh's RE rose a healthy 6.2% while Cleveland's dropped -1%. BTW, my wife was at an investment conference in NYC last week and during one of the panels, Investors listed three cities NOT to invest in and to stay away at all costs, they were Cleveland, Cincinatti & Detroit. Nothing on Pittsburgh either way. Thank god!

Most of my aggravation is at what Mercurypa listed as #10, the suburbanites. They are always the one talking about how crime-ridden and dirty Pittsburgh is and they NEVER come into the city. I swear to god I was at a picnic this past summer in the North Hills and I met a person who hadn't been in the city in over 8 years!! Quite shocking.

Overall, Pittsburgh is on the rise and I think word is getting out. I think the key is that we are now the #2 Green City in the country. If we make a concerted effort and pass San Diego and become #1, that will become a HUGE national story. Dirty Ol' Pittsburgh is now the most Green city in the country. Think about it. :thumbsup:

I think the way Pittsburgh will change is with new leadership, combining the county and the city, and the rising number of young professionals who are loving the housing costs.

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Balist Im sorry I missed your real estate post! I agree that the rising appreciation in real estate prices is an important point in showing that Pittsburgh is on the rebound. If it happens slowly I suppose that is better than nothing. Its true that the population of the U.S. is aging, as in the rest of the industrialzied world. This is the natural trend in educated societies. I wonder if the numbers that were lost were a relatively high death rate in comparison to other parts of the country with high immigration rates. I agree that immigration is important, but it can be overwhelming and costly when out of control. I know this first hand growing up in Southern California.

The quality of life in SoCal has really decreased in the last 20 years. Traffic is out of control, housing prices are ridiculous, beach environmental quality is very low, and most beaches close at 10pm. Illegal immigration is overwhelming and has changed many communites. Multi-culturism exsists but most people still live in racially segregated neighborhoods. Public Transit is minimal at best, and it is more of a social class thing than an accepted way to get around. I always thought it was a barbarian way to view public transit.

Yet many people ask me why I left. It must be a paradise with great weather all year round etc.... Weather does make a difference, but you need more stimulation than that. Most people cant get out and enjoy the weather because you have to work all the time to pay the costs of living in So Cal. Unless of course you are an underpaid actor, or just very wealthy. Also little precipitation means limited water supply. As soon as the water table and the Colorado river run to a trickle, there will be a big economic downturn in the southwest. The Colorado is about 30% of where it was 20 years ago. Yet tract houses with swimming pools continue to be built en mass in LA, Vegas, and Phoenix. I think people are really clueless when it comes to environmental balance. Many people just dont see the big picture I guess.

Pittsburgh has plenty of water! And we are not as prone to natural disasters as many cities. This should be a big selling point in attracting new business. Sure Florida attracts with the weather, but be prepared to pay hight insurance and risk losing your homes and businesses to Hurricanes!

I think Pittsburgh is on the right track! If you notice we have more posts and replies than Philadelphia, so I think there is alot of interest in renewal here. We just can't do it in the same ways as before. I just hope that we will have enough patience to remain while things improve.

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Pittsburgh has seen the worst 20 years ago. The problem was that it was such an economic hit. I think that the region is better off in the long run as cleaner research and tech town than as the land of smokestacks.

The past is done and gone. The only link that I would like to see continue is that Pittsburgh has been traditionally (way back) a city of innovation. I'm not sure where the city would rank these days, but I bet that when you ask most people around the country, Pgh is not the first on their mind.

However, CMU and Pitt both have reputations and hopefully the continued momentum of their ventures will click. CMU and Pitt didn't creat steel and industry in the region. The industry created them and other institutions that continue to benefit the region. Now, it will be largely these universities and institutions that will propel (as they already have) the region forward. Also it's not just tech companies, and bio-science were talking about here. In other fronts, would their be a Cultural Trust without the original cultural foundations (literally and figuratively)? Many cities would love to have downtown's several block Cultural District. This is a big plus in the quality of life category and also a plus in the spendin' money in the city category etc.

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I once read that Pittsburgh is actually BETTER than most cities at keeping people. The fact is every city loses people, but most cities more than make up for it with foreign immigrants. What we need more than anything is to attract more immigrants. And I think that is starting to happen. I am reading more and more about Hispanic immigrants, for instance. It seems more and more immigrants are making an effort to attract others to the city, too.

Is it the city's fault that we haven't had a lot of immigrants in recent years? No, I don't think so. We just aren't on people's radar. Certainly we could make more effort to get on their radar, but I don't think we have done anything wrong either.

Everyone makes great points. But the things that jump out at me the most:

1. The lost generation of kids due to their parents leaving a couple of decades ago.

2. The unusual proportion of elderly people, who will continue to either passaway or move south to retire.

3. The shortage of foreign immigrants.

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Pittsburgh has seen the worst 20 years ago. The problem was that it was such an economic hit. I think that the region is better off in the long run as cleaner research and tech town than as the land of smokestacks.

The past is done and gone. The only link that I would like to see continue is that Pittsburgh has been traditionally (way back) a city of innovation. I'm not sure where the city would rank these days, but I bet that when you ask most people around the country, Pgh is not the first on their mind.

However, CMU and Pitt both have reputations and hopefully the continued momentum of their ventures will click. CMU and Pitt didn't creat steel and industry in the region. The industry created them and other institutions that continue to benefit the region. Now, it will be largely these universities and institutions that will propel (as they already have) the region forward. Also it's not just tech companies, and bio-science were talking about here. In other fronts, would their be a Cultural Trust without the original cultural foundations (literally and figuratively)? Many cities would love to have downtown's several block Cultural District. This is a big plus in the quality of life category and also a plus in the spendin' money in the city category etc.

One thing I have been doing for the past 3 months is making sure I am spending my money within the cities borders. It can be challenging, but it seems to be getting easier as each month goes by. Just an idea, but I think one that will pay off.

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Pittsburgh has turned a corner a while ago. It is in a long struggle now to repair the damage done over the last few decades. Pittsburgh is not the city it once was. Thank God. Pittsburgh was a cesspool. It was world renowned for the worst housing in the country. It was squalor. The skies were choked with smoke.

There is more to a city than high population. Prosperity was mainly for the corporate Barons. The working class people were left behind and the factories closed. Please do not fantasize about what a great place it was here. It is now, we are benefiting from the massive prosperity of the past. We can now reap the benefits of a century of prosperity. We can now boast of great cultural institutions and a city fabric that no city of it's size has. While the prosperity was happening, it was misery.

As for the growth of the sun belt, it only makes sense. Notice the boom of the south paralleled the advancement of air conditioning. Before it, it was unbearable living there. Now it is "paradise". Not to over simplify, but things change, population shifts.

Pittsburgh is leveling off, as far as population loss. It is just a matter of time before the rest of the country rediscovers what Pittsburgh is and how it can offer things that most cities can only dream of. We have had a century of some very good planning decisions also. We must move beyond the gray skies. It is a beautiful green city. Pittsburgh is now taking inventory of it's assets and putting them in the forefront. The river revitalization and park construction is evidence of this.

Phoenix is sunny and brown. The city of Phoenix has lost much of what makes a city a city to it's sprawling neighbors, Tempe and Scottsdale. It will suffer greatly because of this. As far as Charlotte, it is desperately trying to be a city. It is going to have decades of growing pains. The old natives there despise the growth. It has lost it's charm that Charleston and Savanah have been able to maintain and always whines of the loss of the old south. It will always be comparing itself to Atlanta. We all have our battles to wage and debates to rage.

I can't think of another situation like Pittsburgh's. The factors that this city has had to endure, I believe, are unparalleled. It has been tenacious and will emerge as a stronger place. This is where real character comes from and it shows.

It is not Phoenix that has risen from the ashes, it is Pittsburgh.

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Great pts. urbani, I like that you noticed the AC affect there too, don't forget the "unionbusters" movement to the south. When you lament the death of the strong American worker, look no further then to the rise of the sunbelt.

Pittsburgh is turning a corner in major MAJOR ways.

Compare the last 2-3 years of this city to the last 2-3 years of any other "world city"

-Guru.com moves HERE from Silicon Valley

-Seagate, Intel, Google, RAND Corp all open their major east-coast operations here--not Cleveland, not NYC, Bos, Philadelphia, DC, etc. HERE.

-Sony, Bayer, FedEx, SKGlaxo all substantially upgrade and increase their investment in their subsidary HQs in the metro, all of them USA HQ.

-Baseball's ASG, the Superbowl of Fishing, and the USOpen choose Pittsburgh to showcase their grand tournaments.

-JetBlue, Southwest, Hooters, IAir, and Midwest all add a sprite of dozens of daily flights to ur city--in 3 years time.

-Nordstrom's, Cheesecake Factory, HardRockCafe, REI, Ikea all expand to Pittsburgh, making it a regional outpost (only Ikea before Chicago, REI's 2nd only regional distribution center, etc.)

-Biggest single year leap in Forbes Best cities for singles, Esquire names it the best city for Rock and parties, adding 2 Fortune 1000 companies in just a year, with one moving their HQ from a sunbelt state (AYE).

-Built a envy-of-the-world convention center, football stadium, ESPN's best Baseball park, green offices towers and children's hospitals.

This doesn't even account for the leaps the universities have made in medicine and research, the parks, the expanded T line, etc. etc.

Show me another "worldclass" city with a list longer then that, heck one that even matches that.

Pittsburgh is like that team that is quietly winning every game of a young season, sooner or later the world has to notice, the most beautiful thing about it is that once they start noticing even more great news comes our way (JetBlue making the leap in time for the ASG, the ASG coming because of ESPN's best ballpark, the ballpark getting built because of our emphasis on riverbanks (thus the #1 ranking from ESPN with the views), in turn the riverbanks luring the BassMasterClassic, inturn swaying Southwest (from Bassland) on yet another reason to add Pgh flights, the Bassmaster and boating during the ASG winning a federal grant for what might be the best riverpatrol unit in the country come this summer--very cool craft and gear included, etc. etc.).

Just imagine what 10 years of this will bring, to consider some sunbelt cities dont have either JetBlue nor Southwest! Begins with a Charlott-e ;).

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No.

The Cleveland metro gained a tiny bit in the 90s after decades of loss... but now it's losing again... and it's economy is in much worse shape than Pittsburgh's. Nearby Akron metro is growing slowly, however.

I think the "right-sizing" argument is silly. Is Phoenix "right-sizing" itself after decades of insignificance? Is the population explosion of a city in a desert wasteland that can't support a fraction of its current inhabitants "right-sizing"? Is Charlotte... a city that was the size of Erie 50 years ago... right-sizing itself? What the heck is right-sizing? Either you're succeeding or you're failing. To claim that Pittsburgh is "right-sizing" through decline is to assert your belief that Pittsburgh is a minor, inferior city. This is not true. Pittsburgh was a REAL CITY when being a REAL CITY meant something. It has the urban fabric and cultural legacy that you will only find in the Top American cities of the pre-automobile era. Pittsburgh deserves much better than its current fate.

Actually it is growing at a 3% rate.

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Actually it is growing at a 3% rate.

No, Cleveland is not growing. Check the Census estimates. Even if you throw in the Akron MSA (which is flat)... the Cleveland CSA is not growing.

Cleveland has lost 1 percent since 2000.

23 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH MSA 2,126,318 2,148,143 -21,825 -1.0%

2005: Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH 2,931,774

2004: Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH 2,942,303

Net change: -11,000 (approx.)

Thanks for the contributions to the discussion. <_<

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^^I never realized that Cleveland slipped back in the last 6 years. Overall though nothing much has changed in the rustbelt region :(, we are still within a 5-10% range of where we were 20 years ago (as far as the population change rate, not overall population).

Wether or not Cleveland is gaining 1% or losing 3% in the big picture the region as a whole still needs to do worlds better. I say wish Cleveland luck a rising regional tide lifts all boats, even if it is a brownie tide.

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