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Allegheny County loses population, Census figures indicate

Allegheny County lost population for the first time this decade, according to Census Bureau figures released Thursday.

Underlying figures show the loss comes from more people leaving the county than moving into it between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.

Until last year, Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh region attracted more people than they lost with unemployment rates here considerably lower than those in other parts of the country, said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research.

“The migration numbers tend to track pretty closely to our unemployment numbers,” he said.

The national unemployment rate started dropping in 2013 and came close to the regional unemployment rate.

Migration between Allegheny County and the rest of the country went from an estimated gain of 670 people in 2013 to an estimated loss of 3,109 people in 2014.

Hidden within those figures is a likely continuation of a long-term trend in which people are moving around inside the region, such as from Allegheny County to Butler County, which is the only Western Pennsylvania county that saw a population gain, he said.

About 2.6 million people lived in the 10-county region around Pittsburgh in 2014, according to the Census Bureau figures. That represents a 0.2 percent decline from 2013.

Recruiters for some of the area’s major employers said they haven’t run into any problems filling jobs.

The University of Pittsburgh continues to get thousands of applications for its faculty and staff positions and hasn’t noticed a change, said Michelle Fullem, director of recruiting and client services.

“Our candidates come from all over the United States and internationally,” she said.

In addition to a low unemployment rate, the area has a good quality of life and plenty of amenities that let it hold its own, recruiters said.

“In fact, we have found that our region’s relatively low cost of living has been an advantage to us in many instances when recruiting outside the region,” said Dan Laurent, spokesman for Allegheny Health Network.

“My team hires over 10,000 people per year, and we have not experienced a talent shortfall,” said Craig Stambaugh, UPMC’s vice president of human resources and talent acquisition.

Western Pennsylvanians generally want to find jobs here, and people from other parts of the country like what they find when they visit here, he said.

“We continue to receive approximately 500,000 applications for employment per year,” Stambaugh said.

To put the loss of about 5,700 people in context, you have to look at the overall migration patterns, Briem said.

Internal Revenue Service figures from 2011 show that about 60,000 people move into the area annually and another 60,000 people move out of the area annually.

The fluctuation in those two numbers largely drives the area’s population gains and losses, he said.

International migration adds about 3,000 people to the area annually.

Natural population changes are driven by the area’s older population, with the area seeing about 3,000 to 4,000 more deaths than births annually.

“Natural population decline is still pretty rare in the U.S.,” Briem said. “We are one of the few large regions that has natural population decline.”

Several prominent universities help offset that decline by attracting younger people. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. has recruited information technology professionals from those colleges in the past few years, said Kara Feeney, the company’s senior technology campus recruiter.

“We’re really trying to establish ourselves as not only a financial institution but also as a technology institution,” she said.

Many recruits came to Pittsburgh from outside the area to attend school and decided to stay. Offering them a job where they’re interacting with people in 35 countries and 100 cities is an easy sell, Feeney said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or [email protected].


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