(The Center Square) – The Pittsburgh area’s struggle to attract residents is creating problems for the future.
And while the state’s second-largest city is experiencing anemic growth, Philadelphia just keeps getting bigger.
Although the US population increased by 17.8% between 2000 and 22, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area decreased by 2.6%, according to a new policy brief from the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. Pittsburgh’s population loss “stands in stark contrast to the country’s substantial growth,” wrote Allegheny Institute executive director Frank Gamrat.
In 2000, the Pittsburgh area had a population of 2.43 million. By 2020, it had slipped to 2.37 million people.
The Pittsburgh metropolitan area includes Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, and Armstrong counties. For these seven counties, the Census Bureau data has few upsides. The natural evolution of the population has been negative since 2000, which means that the region has recorded more deaths than births. The region has also not attracted many international migrants to compensate for the natural loss of population; it has had about 53,000 immigrants since 2000.
Immigration, from other counties or states, hasn’t helped either.
“It’s safe to say that since most MSA counties suffered in-migration losses that greatly exceeded counties with in-migration totals, large numbers of people left MSA entirely, contributing to the population loss. in the first decade and lackluster gains in the second,” Gamrat wrote.
The growth of other cities of similar size puts Pittsburgh’s problem in perspective.
Since 2010, Pittsburgh has edged up 0.47%, not enough to offset its early 21st century losses. Meanwhile, Columbus, Ohio grew 12.6%, Charlotte in its North Carolina counties grew 18.8%, Omaha in its Nebraska counties grew 14%, and Salt Lake City, Utah grew 15.8%. By the next census, Columbus and Charlotte will have overtaken Pittsburgh in size, thanks to natural population growth and net migration figures.
“Absent a change to a much friendlier business climate, less labor strife and public sector dominance, lower cost government and lower taxes, the Pittsburgh area is unlikely to proportionally shares in the growth of the country and lags even further behind its rapidly advancing counterparts across the country,” Gamrat wrote.