Bird counts in the Pittsburgh area have improved in recent years and limited data suggest that fresh water mussel populations are also doing well – two encouraging trends that offer insight into the health of the region’s ecosystem.
The digital divide is narrowing in Western Pennsylvania, if only slightly. Fewer people in the Pittsburgh MSA reported a lack of internet in their households in 2015 than in the previous two years, according to data obtained from the Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS).
The cost of living has increased in the region since 2011, but so has family income. And despite rising costs, southwestern Pennsylvania continues to rank as one of the least expensive places to live overall among the 16 Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions.
Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy suffered less during the last recession than most regions and one key reason was that unemployment was relatively stable when other places were reeling with more widespread joblessness.
The prognosis for residents’ health in southwestern Pennsylvania is mixed. Heart disease deaths declined over a recent 10-year period in Allegheny County, the most populous of the seven Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area counties. But across the region, the rate of people reporting fair or poor overall health has increased.
The racial and ethnic demographics of southwestern Pennsylvania are changing, just as they are across the nation. The share of the population held by African American, Asian, Hispanic and other minority residents has increased since 2000 and continues to do so.
Abundant annual rainfall leaves southwestern Pennsylvania in a fortunate position as much of the world grapples with the prospect of a shortage of fresh water. But effective stewardship to protect the quality of its rivers and streams has not been the region’s strong suit.