Pittsburgh's favorite color should be gray
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The stereotype of Pittsburghers as an aging, stay-put crowd lacking international flavor has a large measure of truth, based on new U.S. Census Bureau data being released today.
Compared to the nation, metropolitan Pittsburgh is overrepresented in every age category above 45 and has a lower proportion in every age group below, according to results of the 2006 American Community Survey. The government survey is taken annually of some 3 million U.S. households, delving into wide-ranging demographic details covering age, education, income, housing, ancestry and more.
The region's older makeup is nothing new, having been publicized and analyzed for decades from the exodus of so much of its working-age population and their children during the manufacturing collapse of the 1970s and '80s. The survey done last year of households showed the seven-county metropolitan area to have a median age of 42, compared to 36.4 for the United States.
The 65-and-over population makes up 17.1 percent of the region, compared to 12.4 percent of the nation. Those 85 or older represent an estimated 2.5 percent locally and 1.7 percent nationally.
Pittsburgh's biggest proportional shortfalls in young people fell in the under-5 and 25-34 age ranges, but it even showed a lower share of people in their late teens and 20s than the country as a whole, despite the large number of colleges that attract young non-Pittsburghers.
One reason commonly given for Pittsburgh's lack of young people is its low influx of immigrants, who tend to have bigger families. About 3 percent of southwestern Pennsylvanians are foreign-born, the survey found, compared to 12.5 percent of the U.S. population.
The growth of the nation's Hispanic population has been its biggest demographic change in recent years, though it would be hard to tell in the Pittsburgh area. The survey said 22,809 people in the seven counties reported themselves as Hispanic, or only 1 percent of the population, while the group represents an estimated 14.8 percent of the U.S. population. Still, the local Hispanic growth is notable, at 33.4 percent since the 2000 census, compared to 25.3 percent growth nationally.
The age of residents and lack of newcomers is also reflected in how long people say they have lived in the same home. More than twice as many Pittsburghers as those nationally, 13.6 percent to 6.1 percent, have been in the same dwelling since 1969 or before. An estimated 21.5 percent of Americans moved in 2005 or 2006 into the unit they were living in at the time of the survey, which was the case for only 15.5 percent of Pittsburgh area residents.
The federal government has begun using the American Community Survey to replace the long-form questionnaire that formerly went to one of every six households in the decennial census. The annual collection of data is supposed to be more timely and useful for lifestyle analysis, although a formal head count will still be taken in 2010.
The 2006 ACS results are available starting today at www.census.gov for the national population and for states, counties and cities of greater than 65,000 residents.
Among other findings for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area's population:
The percentage of divorced people, 8.2 percent among males and 10.2 percent for females, is about a percentage point less for both genders than among men and women nationally.
The share of local residents who have completed higher education, 27.1 percent with bachelor's degrees and 10.0 percent with a master's or higher, is slightly above national averages. There's a bigger difference in the 89.6 percent of residents here who have graduated from high school, compared to 84.1 percent nationally.
Blacks make up about 8.9 percent of the region's population, compared with 13.1 percent nationally. People are less likely here than elsewhere to list themselves as belonging to two or more races, although an estimated 28,727 do so.
First Published September 12, 2007 12:00 am