The long-held belief that Pittsburgh's younger workforce is declining was shattered this week with the official news that the exact opposite is true.
A report released by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research and local think tank, Pittsburgh TODAY
, confirmed what many have been saying for awhile: Pittsburgh is not only attracting more young people to the region but it is successfully retaining its own.
And they are a highly educated bunch.
Pittsburgh leaders came together on Pitt's campus on Tuesday to celebrate the news in "Young Adults Report 2012," one of the most comprehensive studies to date on youth and the region.
Among the highlights:
The population of adults ages 20-34 rose by 7 percent in the past five years and is on track to grow another 8 percent by 2020.
The region has a young adult workforce that is among the best educated in the country. Pittsburgh ranks fifth in the U.S. for workers aged 25-34 with at least a four-year degree and is one of only three regions where more than 20 percent of young workers hold advanced degrees.
Nearly half of young adults earn at least $50,000 or more and 22% earn $75,000 or more.
“It’s a great time to be a young person coming out of school in your twenties and living in Pittsburgh,” said Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald, who vividly recalled the dark state of the local economy when he graduated in 1984. “We need more policies that will continue to attract the kind of talent that will move this region forward.”
Young people today aren't buying cars at the level of previous generations, he noted. They want better public transportation. They ride their bikes. They enjoy the arts.
Bike Pittsburgh advocate Scott Bricker agreed. Pittsburgh is attractive to many young people as a place where they can get involved and make a difference, he noted.
There’s a lot of buzz about the health of the arts community in Pittsburgh outside of the region, both nationally and internationally, added Jon Rubin, CMU art professor and the director of Conflict Kitchen. Rubin recently returned from China where Pittsburgh was among three American cities recognized, alongside Los Angeles and New York.
Work remains to be done, others said. The region must continue to attract and welcome diverse talent, said Melanie Harrington of Vibrant Pittsburgh.
Young adults have the lowest rates of voter participation of any age group, others noted. One in four young adults reports never voting, even in presidential elections.
The report was released to coincide with the arrival of the One Young World
conference in Pittsburgh this week, bringing some 1,200 young delegates from around the world here to learn more about what's working in the region and discuss a wide of range of pressing global concerns.
Read the report
Writer: Deb Smit