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Arrival of more immigrants softens population decline

by Pittsburgh Today Staff
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Total population fell by 4,597 people throughout the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area from 2013 to 2014. The five-​year population trend, however, is one of stability. The region’s population grew slightly in three of those years.

The one-​year decline — two-​tenths of 1 percent — occurred despite the fact that slightly more people moved into the region than left it for the seventh consecutive year. Driving the migration trend was people from other countries moving into the region. International migration added 3,217 people to the region.

But positive migration trends were eclipsed once again by natural population loss. There were significantly more deaths in the region than births over those 12 months. Southwestern Pennsylvania was the only Pittsburgh Today benchmark region to experience such a loss.

Age is part of the reason. Residents 65 and older account for 18.3 percent of the Pittsburgh MSA population, the highest rate among benchmark regions. And just 19.3 percent of the population is under the age of 18 — the lowest among benchmark regions.

Such data are evidence the region is still feeling the effects of the collapse of its steel industry in the 1980s, which led to a catastrophic loss of jobs and out-​migration of tens of thousands of residents who left in search of work. An estimated 70 percent of those who left were under the age of 39, which not only robbed the region of young adults, but also their children and future children.

Poverty rates lower

In the Pittsburgh MSA, 12.4 percent of residents overall were living in poverty in 2014, down from 12.8 percent the previous year. Only four other benchmark regions report lower poverty rates. A little improvement was seen among children: 17.5 percent of the regional residents under 18 lived in poverty in 2014 compared with 17.7 percent the previous year. Those child poverty rates are lower than in two-​thirds of the other Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions, including Cleveland, where more than 24 percent of children live in poverty.

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