Jump to content

Future of Metro Pittsburgh


Recommended Posts

I posted my thoughts on similar issues on another forum recently... so I'll just paste them here.


Yes, the popular perception is that people flee Pittsburgh in droves... when in fact, the Pittsburgh Metro has one of the lowest rates of domestic out-migration of any major metro in the country. Pittsburgh also has one of the lowest rates of domestic in-migration, however... which was slightly lower than its out-migration rate (most major metros experience a domestic migration deficit).

In addition, Metro Pittsburgh exhibits a higher death rate than birth rate. This is due to the area's unusually high percentage of seniors. This is a hangover effect from the 80s, where for a few years people really did leave Pittsburgh at a catastrophic rate due to the steel mill closures.

There are various reasons why Pittsburgh has not been a part of the recent wave of Latino immigration. Amongst these is, contrary to popular perception, Pittsburgh is now one of the least "blue-collar" areas in the country. The lack of blue-collar opportunities, is one big reason IMO that Latinos have not been attracted here. However, Pittsburgh does have the most highly educated population of immigrants. Skilled workers come from Europe, India, Asia and other regions to work at Pittsburgh's hospitals, universities and high-tech companies.

As for the "fastest growing" immigrant group in Pittsburgh? I don't really know. Pittsburgh is one of the few regions where you're more likely to meet an immigrant from Europe than from Latin America. Russian immigration has been pretty strong... Russians Jews settling in Squirrel Hill has given that neighborhood the nickname "Moscow on the Mon". I don't have numbers, but I do believe Latin American immigration has been increasing steadily to Pittsburgh. The neighborhood of Beechview has attracted a large Mexican population and there are several Mexican businesses on the main corridor there.

Despite the stigma of population loss that everyone likes to obsess about... Pittsburgh's economy has grown every year since the death of steel in the 80s. Pittsburgh wage growth has far surpassed the national average in the past 15 years. The city population is smaller, but much wealthier than ever before. However, it would be really nice if Pittsburgh could attract more people... domestic and international.

this was my second post in thread:

firstly... Florida, Phoenix, etc are top markets for people relocating not only from Pittsburgh... but from everywhere... people migrate from one place to another all over the country... but when someone from Pittsburgh moves elsewhere... it's national news!

secondly, to cure Pittsburgh's illness... it is imperative to make an accurate diagnosis... Pittsburgh does not suffer from an exceptional domestic out-migration rate (which goes against popular perception)... in fact, it's domestic out-migration is amongst the lowest of any major region in the US. The problem is that Pittsburgh also has one of the lowest in-migration rates... a rate lower than it's outmigration. Most major regions experience a domestic migration deficit, however. The big gainers in recent years are exurban counties on the periphery, small to mid-size metros and select attractive rural areas. Even Seattle, Miami and Baltimore has domestic migration deficits. The exceptions are places like Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta. This pdf file features a chart that shows what I'm talking about... it's a bit outdated but it is the best graphical representation of this phenomenon that I could find. Go to page 3. http://www.smartpolicy.org/pdf/pitmigration.pdf

In addition to its domestic migration deficit (which I emphasize... is not due to the popular perception of young people fleeing in droves), Pittsburgh has been one of the least successful major regions in attracting international migrants. In fact, only Cincinnati has a smaller percentage of population comprised of international migrants. The other major reason for Pittsburgh's population decline is that deaths have outnumbered births for about 15 years. This is a hangover affect from the 80s, when a huge proportion of 20-somethings left the Pittsburgh region. Steel mills shuttered and the region lost 120,000 jobs. Young workers were the first to get the axe due to lack of tenure, and these young adults had to seek work elsewhere in the country. This is the main demographic that would have been having children throughout the 90s until today. Pittsburgh experienced a catastrophic net domestic migration loss of 50,000 for several years in the 80s.

These charts help to explain the population loss.

The Pittsburgh Metro's population peaked in 1970. It's decline accelerated in the 80s when the industrial base was destroyed. The decline slowed throughout the 90s and today.

Click the link... http://www.briem.com/PghEcon/PghEcon26_files/slide0029.htm

This chart shows the incredible decline in manufacturing jobs in the Pittsburgh region during the early 80s. This correlates to the drastic population decline of the same period. As you can see, manufacturing remained steady in the 90s.

Click the link... http://www.briem.com/PghEcon/PghEcon15_files/slide0008.htm

This chart shows the difference in unemployment rate between Pittsburgh the National average. As you can see, the decline in manufacturing resulted in a sky-high unemployment differential, which meant that people had to move to find work. It's also interesting to note that the rate of change in unemployment has become much less volatile in Pittsburgh's post-steel economy.


This chart shows the percentage of population 65 and older. Part of the increase over the years is due to increase in life expectancy... which has occured everywhere. However, the Pittsburgh Region has one of the highest percentage of population 65 and older in the country... this is due to its unique population trends. The catastrophic loss of young adults in the 80s meant that an unusually high percentage of those remaining in the Pittsburgh Region were seniors. This is why deaths have outpaced births in recent years, which is a major contributor to the population decline. As the chart shows, in recent years, the senior percentage has decreased as there has been a considerable "die-off" of people this age. The population demographic is starting to become a little more normal.

Click the link... http://www.briem.com/PghEcon/PghEcon27_files/slide0026.htm

To learn more about these issues... check out these links:

Population Migration In The Pittsburgh Region

The Roots of Pittsburgh's Population Drain

International Gateway Communities In Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Migration Trends

Pittsburgh College Students Choosing to Stay in City in Increasing Numbers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to Census Estimates... immigration has picked up in the Pittsburgh Metro from 2000 to 2005.

Here's how Pittsburgh's immigrant population stacked up against other Northeast Metros over 1 million. It's shocking that in 2000, Pittsburgh had less immigrants than a place like Rochester, NY...a stagnant metro half its size. Hartford and Providence are also much smaller... but have large immigrant populations because they're coastal cities near places like Boston and NYC. The interior Northeast has seen the least immigration of any region in the country.

Total Immigrant Populations in Major Northeast Metros

(2000 Census)

1. New York CMSA 5,182,255

2. Washington-Baltimore CMSA 980,621

3. Boston CMSA 721,060

4. Philadelphia CMSA 433,919

5. Providence MSA 142,784

6. Hartford MSA 120,355

7. Rochester MSA 62,794

8. Pittsburgh MSA 62,286

9. Buffalo MSA 51,381

Now according to Census 2005 Estimates... Pittsburgh has made a nice increase... while Rochester's immigrant population has actually declined (also, Albany has been added to the million plus list)


1. New York City 5,523,899

2. Washington-Baltimore 1,212,256

3. Boston 809,213

4. Philadelphia 495,590

5. Providence 198,286

6. Hartford 132,467

7. Pittsburgh 67,081

8. Rochester 61,712

9. Buffalo 54,061

10. Albany 52,536

the numbers are small... but positive change is starting to happen...


1. New York City 1,011,514

2. Washington-Baltimore 326,008

3. Boston 202,486

4. Philadelphia 139,293

5. Providence 34,665

6. Hartford 25,750

7. Pittsburgh 17,111

8. Rochester 12,943

9. Albany 12,784

10. Buffalo 11,229

Where do the immigrants come from? Well... most of the new ones are from Asia (Pittsburgh has a relatively large Indian population)... and the old ones are mostly from Europe (though there has been recent immigration from Russia). Latin immigration is increasing but is still insignificant, though the beginnings of a "Latin community" are forming in Beechview.


1. New York City 1,109,407

2. Boston 174,101

3. Washington-Baltimore 142,876

4. Philadelphia 121,068

5. Providence 78,461

6. Hartford 46,353

7. Pittsburgh 26,943

8. Rochester 22,805

9. Buffalo 21,338

10. Albany 16,871


1. New York City 1,419,453

2. Washington-Baltimore 441,370

3. Boston 237,417

4. Philadelphia 184,612

5. Hartford 29,823

6. Pittsburgh 28,052

7. Providence 27,228

8. Albany 19,833

9. Buffalo 18,094

10. Rochester 16,850


1. New York City 200,204

2. Washington-Baltimore 152,421

3. Boston 57,296

4. Philadelphia 42,305

5. Providence 20,044

6. Rochester 5,754

7. Hartford 3,600

8. Pittsburgh 3,192

9. Buffalo 3,118

10. Albany 1,582


1. New York City 16,042

2. Washington-Baltimore 4,290

3. Boston 2,818

4. Philadelphia 1,269

5. Pittsburgh 597

6. Albany 267

7. Rochester 139

8. Buffalo 116

9. Hartford 66

10. Providence 45


1. New York City 2,720,441

2. Washington-Baltimore 454,730

3. Boston 299,438

4. Philadelphia 136,548

5. Providence 67,597

6. Hartford 44,473

7. Albany 12,311

8. Rochester 10,705

9. Pittsburgh 5,118

10. Buffalo 4,974


1. New York City 57,352

2. Boston 38,143

3. Washington-Baltimore 16,569

4. Philadelphia 9,788

5. Hartford 8,152

6. Buffalo 6,421

7. Rochester 5,459

8. Providence 4,911

9. Pittsburgh 3,197

10. Albany 1,762

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting stuff. By the way, I don't agree with the idea above that the reason Pgh lags in Latin American immigrants is because it is not blue-collar enough. As can be seen in the above numbers, two of the regions that have the highest numbers of Latin American imigrants are DC-Baltimore and Boston, both of which are very white collar areas. I actually think blue collar populace and Latin American immigrants are inversely related. Not to stereotype, but many Latin American immigrants tend to do blue collar jobs. Since there are realtively more blue collar people in Pgh than in Boston or DC, there aren't many openings for Latin American immigrants to fill up. By contrast, there is a dearth of blue collar laborers in DC and Boston. Hence, the rise in Latin American immigrants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, I had a nice reply all ready to submit when my IE crashed... d'oh...

anyways... i'll just leave at this...

you're not disagreeing with me, urbanophile... I stated in my original post "The lack of blue-collar opportunities is why Latino immigrants have not been attracted to Pittsburgh". Regardless of how blue-collar Pittsburgh is (what I mean by that... is percentage of workforce in blue-collar occupations)... Pittsburgh has a dearth of blue-collar opportunities due to a widespeard erosion of its industrial base. The growth in regional manufacturing has been exclusively within smaller-scale high-tech manufacturing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, I had a nice reply all ready to submit when my IE crashed... d'oh...

anyways... i'll just leave at this...

you're not disagreeing with me, urbanophile... I stated in my original post "The lack of blue-collar opportunities is why Latino immigrants have not been attracted to Pittsburgh". Regardless of how blue-collar Pittsburgh is (what I mean by that... is percentage of workforce in blue-collar occupations)... Pittsburgh has a dearth of blue-collar opportunities due to a widespeard erosion of its industrial base. The growth in regional manufacturing has been exclusively within smaller-scale high-tech manufacturing.

Ah, gotcha. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

The appropriately-named Pittsburgh Future website/blog has an excellent analysis of the regional economy here: http://www.pittsburghfuture.com/downloads/...onaleconomy.pdf

Much like anything concerning Pittsburgh... it's easy to look at one raw number... like raw population growth or raw job growth and think this region is falling apart. But if you look into the numbers and actually do some analysis... you'll get a different picture.

The data used is from 1999-2005... the trends would look a bit better if 2006 data was included... since 2006 was our best year "economically" since before the 9/11 economic contraction that hit our region hard (9000 US Airways jobs lost, for example).

Why do we have such sluggish raw job growth? The primary reason is due to the aftershocks of the 150,000 steel jobs lost in the 80s and the resulting population exodus. We are losing jobs in sectors that depend on population growth... creating a bit of a downward spiral. These include public sector jobs, transportation jobs (USAir again), construction and distrubution centers. As Pittsburgh Future states, 1/3 of all jobs created nationally in this period were GOVERNMENT JOBS (amazing!)... half of these are public school jobs... which Pittsburgh is obviously not adding due to stagnant population. In fact, Pittsburgh had a net loss of government jobs.


The following declining sectors are considered "population-dependent sectors":


As Pittsburgh Future states, "When a region is growing, more buildings are built, more people shop, more kids go to public schools and more public services are needed."

If you take away those 4 population-dependent sectors... Pittsburgh's job growth has actually exceeded the national average:


As for the much-ballyhooed manufacturing decline... every region is experiencing it... and Pittsburgh is certainly not the worst


Health care and Higher Education are leading the way in our high-wage job growth


Low wage growth sectors. The tourism sector continues to boom:


We exceed most other regions in rate of growth for science and engineering jobs. These 6000 new jobs pay an average of 50% more than the overall average for the region:


7300 new health care jobs also pay 50% more than regional average:


We lost 18,000 management jobs, however :( :


As Pittsburgh Future says, "Slow Population Growth Will Continue to Make Overall Job Growth Look Slow"

hopefully we can keep creating more good jobs in high-wage sectors so that we eventually do see population growth and a growth in employment in population-dependent sectors... though it's important to note that most population-dependent jobs are low wage jobs

Pittsburgh Future also backs up what I said previously about the roots of our population decline: "Slow population growth does not mean that the region is an undesirable place for young people - contrary to popular myth, the Pittsburgh Region's population remains stagnant because of low birth rate and low international immigration, not because of continuing outmigration of young people. The low birth rate today is due to the outmigration of young people 20 years ago following the collapse of the steel industry - when they left the region, they took their future children and grandchildren with them. Although the Pittsburgh Region still has net domestic outmigration, so do most other regions..."


It's important to note... that despite population decline and sluggish overall job growth... the Pittsburgh Region's "Per Capita Personal Income" has rapidly increased over the past decade... which correlates to our growth in key high-wage sectors. In 2004, the Pittsburgh Economic Area (which includes the 10-county SWPA region plus Wheeling metro and Weirton-Steubenville metro) had a Per Capita Personal Income at 100% the national average. The annual growth rate of PCPI for the Pittsburgh EA from 1994-2004 was 4.3% compared to 4.1% nationally. Over this period, we became a "higher-wage" region in comparison to national trends. However, despite impressive wage growth... our sluggish population and job growth resulted in a rate of growth in Total Personal Income less than the national average.


Edited by Evergrey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I thought some of you might be interested in this. I was doing a bit of research, just for my own curiousity, and found out the following things...

According to the American Community Survey, the city itself gained population in eight out of thirteen age groups between 2003 and 2005. At the same time the county as a whole gained population in only four out of thirteen age groups. If we look at the 20 to 24 age group, the city

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Pittsburgh has surpassed Detroit and vaulted into the Top 50 MSAs ranked by Per Capita Income. Pittsburgh's PCI increased by 6.0% from 2005-2006 compared to 4.9% from 2004-2005.


Pittsburgh MSA ranks 48th out of the 380 or so MSAs.

Rank, Metropolitan Area, Per Capita Income, Annual Growth Rate

1 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $71,901 +6.9%

2 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $55,801 +6.2%

3 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $53,533 +6.1%

4 Naples-Marco Island, FL $53,265 +7.6%

5 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-MD-VA-WV $51,207 +5.2%

6 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA $50,085 +6.2%

7 Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL $49,305 +6.7%

8 Trenton-Ewing, NJ $48,964 +6.6%

9 New York-Northern-New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA $48,397 +6.9%

10 Boulder, CO $48,324 +5.4%

11 Napa, CA $46,286 +6.0%

12 Barnstable Town, MA $46,258 +5.2%

13 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $45,849 +7.5%

14 Casper, WY $45,814 +10.5%

15 Midland, TX $45,274 +10.8%

16 Denver-Aurora, CO $44,299 +4.6%

17 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $44,228 +6.3%

18 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $44,194 +4.3%

19 Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, FL $44,042 +5.9%

20 Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN $43,696 +3.8%

21 Baltimore-Towson, MD $43,549 +5.4%

22 Reno-Sparks, NV $43,209 +4.7%

23 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $42,988 +5.6%

24 San Diego-Carslbad-San Marcos, CA $42,797 +5.5%

25 Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA $42,738 +5.7%

26 Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA $42,385 +4.7%

27 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $42,342 +4.9%

28 Manchester-Nashua, NH $41,895 +5.1%

29 Ocean City, NJ $41,651 +5.3%

30 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX $41,429 +5.7%

31 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI $41,161 +5.7%

32 New Haven-Milford, CT $41,094 +5.0%

33 Norwich-New London-CT $41,019 +4.4%

34 Madison, WI $40,671 +4.3%

35 Santa Fe, NM $40,500 +6.8%

36 Ann Arbor, MI $40,381 +1.7%

37 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI $40,316 +5.6%

38 Anchorage, AK $40,137 +4.5%

39 Carson City, NV $39,958 +5.4%

40 Cheyenne, WY $39,936 +8.7%

41 Miami-Ft Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL $39,628 +5.7%

42 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA $39,579 +4.9%

43 Pittsfield, MA $39,463 +5.0%

44 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA $39,448 +5.4%

45 Dallas-Ft Worth-Arlington, TX $39,187 +5.3%

46 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA $39,011 +6.2%

47 Worcester, MA $38,814 +5.3%

48 Pittsburgh, PA $38,717 +6.0%

49 Rochester, MN $38,715 +3.2%

50 Honolulu, HI $38,689 +5.1%

Other notables:

51 Nashville

55 Charlotte

57 Detroit

59 Indianapolis

62 Kansas City

69 St. Louis

72 Portland

73 Raleigh

74 Cleveland

77 Harrisburg

78 Cincinnati

80 Columbus

81 Las Vegas

89 Atlanta

107 Tampa

131 Phoenix

136 Buffalo

146 Orlando

Edited by Evergrey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pittsburgh MSA's Total Personal Income stands at $91,790 (millions) for 2006. It increased by 4.4% from 2004-2005 and 5.5% from 2005-2006.

1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA $910,760

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA $505,197

3. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI $391,262

4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $270,903

5. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $250,482

6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX $235,277

7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $233,248

8. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX $229,517

9. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH $223,140

10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL $216,523

11. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA $184,186

12. Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI $170,600

13. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $144,337

14. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI $138,735

15. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ $136,972

16. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA $125,885

17. Baltimore-Towson, MD $115,770

18. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA $111,869

19. Denver-Aurora, CO $106,706

20. St. Louis, MO-IL $104,202

21. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $95,671

22. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL $94,311

23. Pittsburgh, PA $91,790

24. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA $79,399

25. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH $78,371

26. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA $77,056

27. Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN $76,521

28. Kansas City, MO-KS $74,266

29. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL $65,459

30. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $64,743

31. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV $64,543

32. Indianapolis-Carmel, IN $63,058

33. Columbus, OH $62,698

34. San Antonio, TX $62,110

35. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI $60,876

36. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC $60,508

37. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA $59,967

38. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC $57,062

39. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN $56,026

40. Austin-Round Rock, TX $54,955

41. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $52,540

42. Jacksonville, FL $46,314

43. Richmond, VA $45,122

44. Memphis, TN-MS-AR $44,758

45. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN $43,257

46. Birmingham-Hoover, AL $41,399

47. Oklahoma City, OK $41,278

48. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA $39,290

49. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY $38,335

50. Raleigh-Cary, NC $36,905

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

In general I think the Metro area of Pittsburgh looks bright. We have a new PNC Building, a new greyhound station???, and new african american cultural center building all being built as we speak. Pittsburgh doesn't get enough credit!!!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 8 months later...
  • 7 years later...
On 8/23/2006 at 9:46 PM, skycity said:

How low do you think Pittsburgh's metro population will drop before it starts going up again?


What factors do you think will lead to Pittsburgh once again experiencing population growth?


What do you think the future of Pittsburgh will look like?

I know this is an 11 year old thread.....

...but Pittsburgh is clearly coming into its own now.   It's a great example of how a manufacturing center can transition to producing what the modern economy demands.    The economy has shifted to financial services, health care, and technology while remaining a major center for higher education.     Being home to offices for Google, Intel, Amazon, and Facebook is a big deal these days.    

The population may be stagnant at the moment, but the city is getting healthier.   I enjoyed my recent business trip to the city of Champions and would love to move there if the opportunity presents itself.    It would be nice to have an airline hub in Pittsburgh again, but I'm not sure how or if that is possible.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.