Pittsburgh population estimated to have fallen in 2013

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After estimating incremental population growth for the previous two years, the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimate is that the population of Pittsburgh declined slightly in 2013.

In estimates released this morning, the Census Bureau said there were 348 fewer people living in the city on July 1, 2013, than on July 1, 2012. The new population estimate is that there are 305,841 Pittsburgh residents, meaning the change is statistically insignificant at just 0.1 percent.

The slight change is a sign that the city’s population, which lost 64,000 people from 1990 to 2010, is stabilizing if not growing.

“The city of Pittsburgh population is a half-full or half-empty kind of story,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist for the Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh.

While Census Bureau estimates on state and county populations tend to be fairly accurate, the local estimates are less reliable, Mr. Briem said. An example of that was the estimate for 2011 when the city’s population was supposed to have risen by 1,780. That since has been revised to a population gain of 392, or a difference of 1,368 people.

Mr. Briem said the Census Bureau estimates state and county populations based on births, deaths and migrations, but the subcounty level is estimated by using building permits to determine where people are going. That, he said, is much less precise.

While Bill Peduto was not mayor of Pittsburgh last July, one of the mayor’s stated goals has been to increase the number of people living in the city.

“For the mayor, growing the city’s resident base has always been a long-term proposition. It could take a decade a more, but through a multifaceted approach his goal is to grow the population by 20,000 or more,” Tim McNulty, the mayor’s spokesman, said.

Mr. McNulty said the mayor is going to try to do that by bringing development to neighborhoods such as Homewood and Larimer, boosting immigration and attracting business and industry.

“One of the reasons the mayor is constantly traveling is to sell Pittsburgh to new businesses nationwide and globally, and attract new jobs and residents,” he said.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

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