Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow: Regional Annual Report

High Rates of Chronic Disease, Unhealthy Behaviors Persist

Southwestern Pennsylvanians find themselves in the middle of the pack when self-​reported health status is measured across the 15 Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions. More than 83 percent of residents in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) describe their health as good or better, and 16.6 percent rate it fair or…

Lack of Diversity in the Region’s Workforce Raises Concerns

Rayfield Lucas had heard there were well-​paying jobs to be had in the shale gas industry; jobs that offered the opportunity to earn his way to a future more secure than the maintenance and warehouse work he’d done in the past could ever promise. He went for it.

The Arts Emerge as a Driver of Revitalization

The weight of support the arts enjoy in Pittsburgh was on public display last fall when local foundations bought the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, rescuing it from debt, troubled management and a suitor with designs for turning it into a Downtown hotel.

Spotlight Shines On Pittsburgh’s Bumpy Ride to Teacher Evaluation Reform

It’s a Saturday night in early November. A jazz band plays near a rocket simulator in the Carnegie Science Center where a line snakes toward the bar. People in cocktail attire chat over hors d’oeuvres. It’s not often that city public school teachers are at the center of a gala…

College Graduates Increase But Region Still Lags

Earning a high school education is the building block of success. Southwestern Pennsylvanians shine in that regard. Where they come up short is in building on that foundation. And the consequences of not earning a college degree can be significant, local survey data show.

Badly Needed Reinvestment Expected Soon

The long-​awaited reinvestment in transportation statewide can’t come too soon in southwestern Pennsylvania, where neglected roads and bridges leave no doubt there is plenty of work to be done with the region’s share of the $2.3 billion in state transportation funding approved more than a year ago.

Low Crime Rates Are a Trademark of the Region

Crime varies by neighborhood, but southwestern Pennsylvania’s overall crime rate is the envy of Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions. And only Boston has a lower crime rate than the City of Pittsburgh in the ranking of benchmark cities.

Land Banks Emerge with Hopes of Turning Back the Tide of Vacant Properties

They were aware of the problem. How could they not be? The ghostly abandoned houses and weedchoked vacant lots in their municipalities numbered in the thousands. Vacancy, tax delinquency and blight had emerged as widely recognized cancers exclusive to no neighborhood. The crisis even resonated in Harrisburg, where lawmakers were…

Slow, Steady Growth is in Line with Tradition

The region’s housing market is anything but dramatic. It has long been the tortoise in the race: Slow, but reliably steady. Little has changed in a year’s time.

In a Fragmented Region, Big Problems Encourage Cooperation

Few regions have as many disparate local governments as southwestern Pennsylvania. While that is not likely to change soon, recent approaches to several chronic problems suggest an era of cooperation is rising among cities, boroughs and townships that lack the means to solve them on their own.

As Demand Rises, Food Banks Face the Challenge of Change

No one waiting at North Hills Community Outreach’s food pantry in Hampton wore dirty or tattered clothing. The children playing in the parking lot while their parents lined up for a few bags of groceries attended stable suburban schools.

Allegheny County Health Department Takes a New Approach to Solve Old Problems

Dr. Karen Hacker arrived at the town hall meeting in Turtle Creek to find it crowded with TV news crews. The director of the Allegheny County Health Department had come that October evening to discuss the state of chronic disease in the community, which includes high rates of obesity and…

When Better Is Not Good Enough

Last spring, the shenango, inc. coke plant on Neville Island was fined $600,000 for 330 air pollution violations and ordered to fix the problems that led to them. It was a familiar pattern in southwestern Pennsylvania in which pollution violations are detected, fines negotiated and fixes ordered — a process that has…

The 2015 Economic Outlook

Southwestern Pennsylvania is in solid economic shape entering 2015. Employment is holding near all-​time highs, and the seven-​county unemployment rate has fallen to just under 5 percent — with the historic low of 4.1 percent in sight for 2016. But stalled labor force growth since late 2012 should temper excitement regarding the…

Population Shifts Again with Aging Baby Boomers

Southwestern pennsylvania’s demographic landscape is once again changing in profound ways. After decades of slowly recovering from the exodus of young adults in the 1980s, the region is again seeing older adults command a growing share of the population as more baby boomers age.
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