Thursday, April 05, 2012

Post-Soylent Pittsburgh

So yes, go read the headline that there is another year of net migration into the Pittsburgh region: Region's population turnaround has lasted and grown.  and no, for the record, the Fish did not save Pittsburgh.

The regional number was not unexpected at all given the labor force trends of late, but there is a surprise, almost a mystery, in that Allegheny County recorded positive net migration since ????.  Be you a booster or not, it is a pretty signficant and surprising number that all of a sudden Allegheny County is showing up with net migration of over 3K (domestic + international). It is a development that needs a lot more parsing to make sense of.  The notional facts at the moment that Allegheny County is attracting or retaining more folks than the suburban counties it long trailed I honestly don't have a quick explanation for.   Think about the potential, if superficial, consequences:  All the development of shale gas concentrated in the suburban counties vice Allegheny yet the residential trends have moved sharply in Allegheny County's favor?  Curious.  How about assessments.  As the assessment process moved closer to reality people became more willing to buy homes here?  I remind folks that we gave a Nobel Prize in economics to Professor Lucas much for the theory of rational expectations, so you really do have to believe those folks really factored in the impending reassessment into their plans.  Ponder that some.

Before you get too too excited...  might be worth noting that Philadelphia grew by over 10K folks in this same data. But of note is that their growth was all natural population increase (more births than deaths) and their net migration was close to a wash.  One quick conclusion others are having on this is encapulated by the USAToday which also has a nice national graphic of the latest numbers in: America's romance with sprawl may be over. Yes, I'd love to have time or resources to do local versions of that graphic... alas.

So note that as I type the census folks have not put online their dataset on this as yet. So I am working off the news reports which was embargoed the data.  I will really will need to get other data later in the year which will allow parsing of the inter-county migration flows to really begin to make sense of this.  What I want to look at is what I will put out whenever I update my report on migration trends in Pittsburgh

But for Allegheny County's apparent positive migration flow here is some real perspective. I should note first that if you include international migration I think it was a positive flow for the county a couple years ago...but other than that parsing how long has it been since there was net positive domestic migration flow into Allegheny County?   Put another way, how far back do you have to go that Allegheny County was not a net loser of population to the suburbs?

I am pretty sure there was no year since the 1960's forward where that has been the case.  We could dig into that if you really want, but Allegheny County's population was hit by the compounded issues of regional decline and suburbanization over all those years. So how much further back do you have to go?  Here is a quick scan of a table from Ira Lowry's Portrait of  Region, Volume I of the Economic Study of the Pittsburgh Region. 1963. See if you can read what it is saying about Allegheny County's migration trends.  This was also the basis for one part of my quote in the paper today.


Blogger BrianTH said...

The state breaks down labor force statistics by county as well, and recently Allegheny County had more than its fair share of MSA labor force growth. So if you bought what the labor force was suggesting about the MSA, the County numbers shouldn't have been surprising.

By the way, the City is also getting more than its fair share of MSA (and in fact County) labor force growth. But good luck getting anyone to draw the obvious conclusion, even after this.

Thursday, April 05, 2012 3:46:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Several reasons why the immigration to the city. People moved to the suburbs for lower taxes....but many of those suburbs have raised their taxes considerably. Gasoline costs have been on a roller coaster for the last decade often making commuting very expensive...along with the incredible high cost of parking.
Here's a big one....too many people can no longer afford a home with the higher down payment requirements and the tougher lending standards. And a lot have people have destroyed their credit rating and can not get a loan. That makes renting, most common in the city, the best option.

Maybe the older population likes to be closer to the medical centers...and the docs on call want to be close also.

Huge amounts of redevelopment has created jobs, businesses, and living quarters in the city all attracting more people.

I'm sure there are more I didn't think of. Add 'em all up and there should not be any reason to be surprised by the net immigration.

Thursday, April 05, 2012 5:01:00 PM  

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