Experts Explain The Population Loss In Pittsburgh Region

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Hardly a week goes by without some study touting Pittsburgh as number one in something and yet, we continue to lose population.

“This is still an older region. Half the population loss is what we call natural population decline — more deaths than births each year,” said Christopher Briem of the University of Pittsburgh at a recording of the Sunday Business Page.

Of the major metro areas, Pittsburgh lost more people than any other city except Chicago.

Every county in the region — except Butler — lost population for a total one-year loss in the seven county area of nearly 9,000 people.

Local experts examined the reasons.

“We are the only large metropolitan region in the country that has more deaths each year than births,” emphasized Briem.

Our older population is dying faster than the younger ones are having babies.

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That accounts for half the population loss.

The other half?

“The other half, I think, the net migration loss,” adds Briem. “That’s sort of reflective of economic change.”

People are moving out of the region for better jobs elsewhere, notwithstanding 10,000 more jobs.

“In the scheme of 1.2 million plus jobs, that’s a very low rate of job growth,” noted Doug Heuck of the University of Pittsburgh.

“Essentially for the last four years we’ve been basically flat in job growth after doing very well coming out of the great recession and doing much better than other places.”

What can be done to reverse the numbers, especially as baby boomers retire? First, companies need to do compete nation-wide to attract people here.

“A lot of local firms were not used to recruiting from a national labor market,” notes Briem.

Second, boost wages.

“Our wages are also lower, and not all young people make the calculation that, well, wages are lower but the cost of living is lower,” says Heuck.

The full discussion of this topic can be seen on the Sunday Business Page this Sunday, April 2, at 6:30 am on KDKA-TV.

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