Pittsburgh TODAY has published its annual report on how the region compares to fourteen other areas of the country in ten categories: arts, demographics, economy, education, environment, government, health, housing, public safety and transportation.
When the benchmarking project began in 1995, Director Douglas Heuck said Pittsburgh fared poorly in many categories, but now it is number one in job growth with a relatively strong, diversified economy. The number of foreign immigrants is low (59,000 are foreign-born), but with 53.5% having earned at least a bachelor’s degree, they are the most educated in the country.
Population in the region (though not in Allegheny County) has stopped going down. Experts attribute the low crime rate to population stability — the fact that residents have been here a long time and have many ties to the community, i.e., the social fabric is stronger than in many other places.
Heuck said areas of concern include air quality, which is among the worst in the nation year after year, even though most residents don’t realize it because the pollution is not visible as it was in the past. Nevertheless, the very small particulate matter, primarily from coal-fired power plants both here and to the west, is inhaled deeply into the lungs and can have negative health consequences.
The very expensive fix needed for sewage infrastructure is another challenge, said Heuck, as is funding for public transportation and the significant economic, health, and educational disparities between the white and African American communities, which impact fairness and the region's workforce.