Thursday, March 27, 2014


So here is what I said on Monday
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.


Anonymous DBR96A said...

It appears that Allegheny and Butler Counties were the only ones to gain population, while Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties lost population. The change from gain to loss in Washington County surprised me, but I'm very encouraged that Allegheny County continued to gain population.

I imagine the death rate will stop being such a drag on population numbers after 2020. In the meantime, Pittsburgh just has to work harder than any other major metropolitan area to grow its population because of it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 3:56:00 AM  
Blogger Vannevar said...

Unqualified wag: Given the reduced birth rate among college educated people, and Pgh's educational demographics, we're not growing them locally.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the biggest declines were in the heavy fracking counties. I wonder if people are leaving because of drilling.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps "fracking" isn't the job boom Corbett and allies have been selling us. Check out the dramatic turnarounds for Lycoming and Tioga counties this year... counties that had seen rare population mini-booms over the past few years... but saw sharp declines in 2013. My suspicion is that a lot of the fracking labor force is quite temporary.

What's frustrating is that those in control of Harrisburg have put all their eggs in the fracking basket as Pennsylvania's economic salvation... while neglecting everything else. The latest population numbers are pretty grim across Pennsylvania... falling behind even Ohio's anemic growth rate.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

Ohio has a several things on its side at the moment:

1. A large jump in manufacturing jobs.

2. Increased drilling in the Utica Shale (these jobs could be temporary just like those in northern Pennsylvania).

3. No budget cuts for higher education last year.

4. A higher birth rate and a lower death rate.

5. More room to climb after falling farther during the recession.

6. A larger government workforce despite a smaller population.

All these advantages gave Ohio a meager 8,451 population growth advantage over Pennsylvania last year. To put it another way, Ohio's best year for population growth in the last six is only worth 8,451 people over Pennsylvania's worst year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:39:00 AM  

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