Wednesday, June 23, 2010

pop estimates across Allegheny county

Just to finish up news on the latest batch of municipal population estimates that are in the minor news cycle. My only comment to that as it relates to the city's latest population is again that the revisions to last year's population estimate are about the same magnitude as the estimated change in population over the last year. Should take that as a lesson as to how much to interpret from these numbers in themselves. 

Here is a quick and dirty map of what the data shows across the county.  Again, take with a grain of salt as to what it actually says about population change, but the the data does probably reflect pretty well residential housing construction across municipalities. 

The colors do exaggerate the changes especially for where there was 'decline'. For the most part the actual numbers are quite small up or down in both absolute and percentage terms.  I thought any other more detailed shading would imply overinterpretation.  So a very broad measure of where housing activity is relatively stronger within the county is what this is for the most part.  No surprises, but that may be a surprise in itself.  That the general pattern is mostly the same as every other year for last 50 is something. Some of the South Hills suburbs look to be at least temporarily out of the growth crescent that has defined change within Allegheny County for decades is about all I note.  That some munis have maintained building activity through depth of a very housing-focused recession is something in itself. Anyway, this is all data you can look at directly from the census here.

Estimated % Population Change 2008-2009
Allegheny County Municipalities


Anonymous BrianTH said...

So about the vacancy issue: as I understand Briem's argument, because the Census doesn't count the conversion of an occupied unit to a vacant unit unless the vacant unit is demolished, the estimate methodology could be missing some population loss in the City.

But do we actually know that the vacancy rate in the City has been increasing? I believe the Pittsburgh region in general has a really low multi-unit vacancy rate these days (like among the very lowest in the nation for a major metro). I'm not sure about SFHs, but given the low rental vacancy rate and norm of converting SFHs to rental units in the City, I wonder if it is likely the SFH vacancy rate in the City would be on a very different trend from the apartment vacancy rate.

In fact, as I understand the Census methodology, all this has to be thought of in relative terms--what is happening to vacancy rates in the City relative to other parts of the County? And the key is not the level but the trend, because I believe the Census assumes the same relative vacancy rates as in 2000 when imputing the County-wide population to the various localities.

Accordingly, assuming it is true that rental units in particular are experiencing really low vacancy rates in Allegheny County, how would that affect the relative trend in vacancy rates between the City and the rest of the County? It doesn't seem obvious to me those conditions would be relatively bad for the City.

But maybe Briem has actual data on relative vacancy rates. I'm just trying to follow the argument.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:11:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Have I made a concise time series? No, or not yet at least.  But you can see the vacancy issues concentrated in the city in this map gallery.

So yes, not entirely a city issue.. but the 'relative' part in the methodology is for the estimates. 2010 census numbers will reflect lots of units with no occupants. We can take a bet that one of the first headlines to come from the 2010 numbers is the population decline in places like East Liberty and Homewood just for a few examples and you have to ask yourself where the residents that were there have gone. Some moving into Penn Hills/Wilkinsburg and environs.

and many tend to overlook all that is happening in West End neighborhoods. Few of which have seen population gain I suspect over the decade and also have their own vacancy issues.

So we will see. There may be some more people in the city than expected.. but I bet college students will be a big part of that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:37:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that there isn't a relative vacancy issue in the City. Similarly, I would bet on the population of the City as a whole having declined from 2000. It is really just the recent estimates that I am wondering about.

Incidentally, I agree that college students may be a big part of any hypothetical underestimating of the City population. But I'm also going to be keeping my eye on younger families--if the estimates are missing population, it could be in that category as well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

and many tend to overlook all that is happening in West End neighborhoods.

But only because most people don't remember they are even there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That graphic could be titled "The myth of infill".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:16:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

At higher levels of resolution, much of Pittsburgh has been infilling lately. If the city's population is down by a few hundreds, some areas are clearly gaining people.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:46:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

some areas are clearly gaining people

yup... and others are depopulating.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:50:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Yes. I guess I count adding housing to, for example, Squirrel Hill or the South Side flats as 'infill.'

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 5:17:00 PM  
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