Where is Pittsburgh’s population growth occurring and who is driving it? | News | Pittsburgh

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CP photo: Jared Wickerham

People walk through downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday August 18.

When the decennial census was released on August 12, the figures showed that Allegheny County had increased its population for the first time since 1960. The growth was not that substantial, just a 2.2% increase, but it was still an important step. Allegheny County has added 27,230 residents from a decade ago, and Pennsylvania’s second-largest county now has a population of 1,250,578. The county census tally topped its estimate by 3%, one of the biggest outperformers in America.

In addition to this growth, Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh area also added more non-white residents. The county has seen significant increases in its Latin American and Asian populations, adding more than 15,000 Latino residents and over 24,000 Asian residents. The county is still predominantly white, but 2020 is probably the least white the county has been in modern history. In 2010, Allegheny County was 81% white, but in 2020 it was 75% white.

But the census wasn’t entirely positive in terms of growth in Pittsburgh. The black population of the city of Pittsburgh has fallen more than any other race, in percentage. The city lost 10,660 blacks, a drop of more than 13 percentage points from 2010. Overall, the county’s black population has remained relatively stable, with only an increase of 1.1% and about 1 800 additional black residents. This suggests that the suburb of Allegheny County saw a sharp increase in the black population, even as the town’s population declined.

While the census highlights many aspects of the Pittsburgh area that people have been discussing for several years, it also contains a few surprises. Even so, it reinforces the idea that Pittsburgh is growing, but not everywhere, and not for everyone.

Suburban surge

Compared to the 2010 census, Pittsburgh lost 2,733 residents. However, this drop was much smaller than expected and much smaller compared to other recent census figures. Between 2000 and 2010, the city shrank by 8.5%. But between 2010 and 2020, the city only shrunk by less than 1%.

But outside the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County saw relatively large increases and grew 3.3% from 2010 to 2020. The suburb of Allegheny County added nearly 30,000 more residents compared to that. ten years ago.

These gains all came from non-white residents. In the suburb of Allegheny County, the Asian and Latin American population has increased by almost 88%. Most municipalities in Allegheny County have reduced their number of white residents, led by Munhall, decreasing its white population by more than 13%.

But the growth was not even in all suburban municipalities. There were a lot of suburban municipalities in Allegheny County that lost population, especially in the Mon Valley. North Braddock fell by 537 people, a drop of more than 11% of the population.

Much of the growth has been concentrated in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. The Township of Pine added nearly 3,200 new residents and increased by almost 28%. Just across the border in Butler County, the townships of Cranberry and Adams have also experienced significant growth. (Cranberry added nearly 5,000 residents, the highest volume gain of any municipality in the Pittsburgh area.)

Southern Allegheny County, and just across the border in Washington County, also saw significant population gains, with Township of South Fayette adding nearly 4,000 and Township of Cecil 3,338 people.

Black displacement

The census confirmed what many have already discussed: The city of Pittsburgh has lost large numbers of black residents. The decline of blacks in Pittsburgh has been more than twice as rapid as the decline of whites in the city, one of the few municipalities in Allegheny County where the decline of blacks has exceeded the decline of whites.

However, blacks are not shunning the region as a whole, as many have suggested. Allegheny County’s black population has increased slightly, and increased significantly (15%) if we count only the municipalities outside the city. The suburbs added 12,477 black residents, even as they lost more than 39,000 white residents.

But it is not known exactly what drove blacks to the suburb of Allegheny County. Some affluent suburbs – like Oakmont and Kennedy Township – have more than doubled their black populations, and the suburbs of North Hills, Pine and Marshall, have also seen their black populations increase. However, many economically struggling boroughs, such as Glassport, Pitcairn and East McKeesport, have also have seen huge increases in their black populations with each small borough having added hundreds of black residents over the past decade, suggesting they have been forced to move from previously affordable urban neighborhoods to cheap housing that is more widely available in these struggling boroughs.

Another factor that can also complicate the way black displacement is viewed is Pittsburgh. The 2020 census saw a huge increase in the number of people identifying themselves as multiracial, as opposed to just one race. Americans identifying themselves as multiracial are up 276% in 2020 from 2010. And Pittsburgh has probably seen some of that as well. The multiracial population of the city of Pittsburgh added more than 10,000 people.

Although more than 10,000 people identifying themselves as black alone have narrowed within the city limits, Pittsburgh has added 2,646 people who identified themselves as black in combination with another race.

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