Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Population Figures

Much hand-wringing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over continued population decline in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the metro region.

I agree: Pittsburgh has some big problems.

But we’re not alone in terms of urban core areas slowly losing population:

from http://www.census.gov/popest/counties/CO-EST2004-08.html:
the first figure is the 2004 estimate; the second figure is the 2003 estimate:

Philadelphia County, PA 1,470,151 1,476,953
Middlesex County, MA 1,464,628 1,466,561 (this is the biggest of Boston’s suburban counties)
Allegheny County, PA 1,250,867 1,259,176
Cuyahoga County, OH 1,351,009 1,361,933
San Francisco County, CA 744,230 751,908
Suffolk County, MA 666,022 676,299 (this is Boston proper)
Baltimore city, MD 636,251 643,304

What’s growing in these metro areas: all the suburban counties in the Philadelphia area, the DC area, and the outlying parts of the Boston area.

What’s growing in the Pittsburgh metro area: nothing--so yes, we’ve got it worse.

DC itself (not counted as a county) is also apparently down although DC officials dispute this (see this report in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21111-2004Dec22.html). (Mysteriously and with no action on my part, my ability to read the Washington Post on-line has returned. The Baltimore Sun site is still acting crazy.)

Massachusetts is apparently the only state to suffer a population decline overall from 2003 to 2004--see here: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2005/04/17/shrinking_pains/.

My point: some places like Pittsburgh haven’t solved the post-industrial riddle. Other places have, but haven’t solved the problem of sprawl. Either way, central cities and inner-ring suburbs are losing relative to their outlying areas and older metro areas are losing relative to new ones in the south and west. While Pittsburghers are busy trying to solve the problems of this region (there are many), we would be wise not to forget that we have a national problem that may require national solutions. In another post, I will try to outline why I think this is, in fact, a problem. And someday I may think up a solution.
Keep checking back with me for that.

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