University of Pittsburgh
October 10, 2012

New PittsburghTODAY Report Shows Educated Young Adults Moving to Pittsburgh Region in Pursuit of Job Opportunities

Region one of only three nationwide where more than 20 percent of young workers hold advanced degrees
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PITTSBURGH—Despite Pittsburgh’s mass exodus of young people in the 1980s, data released today by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research and PittsburghTODAY show that over the past five years Pittsburgh has seen a seven percent influx of young people ages 20-34.

The report, Young Adults Report 2012, draws the most comprehensive profile to date of the young men and women in the 32-county Pittsburgh region. Findings are based on PittsburghTODAY’s reporting, as well as on an extensive regional survey and focus groups conducted jointly by the University Center for Social and Urban Research and PittsburghTODAY, a partner organization of the University of Pittsburgh. 

“For decades, Pittsburgh media and the region as a whole have had a near obsession with the subject of young adults leaving the region,” said Douglas Heuck, director of PittsburghTODAY.  “With our new report, we dispel a lot of long-held myths. Pittsburgh is attracting young adults, and those who are moving here are among the most educated in the nation.”

The report’s key findings follow. 

  • Migration: Nearly 70 percent of new Pittsburgh arrivals are between the ages of 22 and 34, migrating from nearby cities such as Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; and New York, N.Y. 
  • Education: Those moving in are better-educated young adults in pursuit of job opportunities. The education level of 25-34-year-olds has risen to where the region now has a young adult workforce that’s among the best educated in the nation. Pittsburgh ranks fifth in the nation for workers ages 25-34 with at least a bachelor’s degree and is one of only three regions where more than 20 percent of young workers hold advanced degrees. 
  • Jobs: Nearly half of young adults in the region earn at least $50,000 annually, and 22 percent report earnings of $75,000 or more.
  • Transportation: Young adults are the most likely age group to frequently use public transportation, and public transit issues were immediately identified in every focus group session as a regional weakness, with complaints ranging from the cost of fares to unreliable service, recent service cuts, and outdated payment procedures.
  • Voting: Young adults in the region have the lowest rates of voter participation in any age group. One in four reports never voting, even in presidential elections. 

Young Adults Report 2012 examines the behaviors and attitudes of 417 residents ages 18-34 in Pittsburgh’s Metropolitan Statistical Area and the remaining 25 counties of the greater 32-county region, including counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Data was collected through the 120-question Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey and transcripts from five focus group sessions conducted with young adults during the summer of 2012. From the University Center for Social and Urban Research, regional economist Christopher Briem and Director of Pitt’s Urban and Regional Analysis Program Sabina Deitrick were involved in creating the Survey. Laurel Person Mecca, program assistant director at the Center, administered the focus group sessions. 

The report and additional information are available on the PittsburghTODAY Web site in the special reporters section: Print copies may be requested by contacting Emily Craig at 

A related free panel discussion/Q&A about building a region that retains young adults will be held Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Pitt’s University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m., with the panel discussion/Q&A following from 8 to 9:45 a.m. Media are welcome to attend.

The following panelists will participate in the Oct. 16 panel discussion/Q&A in Pitt’s University Club:

  • Scott Bricker, executive director, Bike Pittsburgh; 
  • Christopher Briem, regional economist, Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research; 
  • Sabina Deitrick, director, Urban and Regional Analysis Program in Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research, and associate professor in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs;
  • Melanie Harrington, CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh; 
  • Vera Krofcheck, director of strategy and research, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board; 
  • Erin Molchany, former executive director, Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project; 
  • Julie Pezzino, executive director, Grow Pittsburgh; 
  • Jon Rubin, assistant professor of art, Carnegie Mellon University; and
  • Steven E. Sokol, president and CEO, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. 



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