Whether the region's total population is increasing is another story. Natural population decline continues and will offset any small positive net migration into the region. So the overall population change is going to be awfully close to zero.Drumroll... the Pittsburgh region's population decreased between 2012 and 2013, but by a total of.... 152. Works out to 0.00005% of the region's total population of 2.36 million. Remember this is an estimate, so within any reasonable range of error, just about as close to zero as is meaningful.
Now is that good or bad? No growth = bad to some for sure. A classic half full or half empty kind of argument for Pittsburgh in context. No growth is still a relatively positive story for a region that has declined in population virtually every year since forever. The real positive angle on this is that net migration for the region was again positive. So we have made it to at least a 6th straight year of positive net migration into the region. That must be some kind of record for the region over the last century give or take. And with the population decline coming from the excess of deaths over births over the most recent year, and gains in new folks moving here, we are in a sense getting 'younger,' albeit pretty slowly.
Also, and more importantly. Don't overinterpret the low net migration number. It does not mean there is nobody moving into the region. It means the flows in and the flows out are nearly balanced. There still are likely on the order of 40K more people moving into the region every year, just as there are a slightly lower number moving out. So still plenty of new folks around every year.
Note the Census Bureau's own press release on this describes the data just released with this lede: Energy Boom Fuels Rapid Population Growth in Parts of Great Plains. Is there a comparable population boom across Pennsylvania because of shale development here? Look at the map of growth across the nation and you just can't draw any comparison between Pennsylvania and any of the other energy-driven economies in the US. Seems to me there is a story for someone to look into more. You can look at the data yourself and draw some conclusions.
More to follow, of course. And next week I may put out my guess on what to expect for the city of Pittsburgh's population estimate for 2013 which we will not learn for a couple more months.