Demographics Report Shows Region’s Continuing Racial Disparities

Issue Date: 
January 26, 2015

A report compiled by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems reveals continued disparities in the Pittsburgh region among ethnic and racial groups in education levels, employment, and other quality-of-life indicators. 

Among the key findings:

• Thirty-three percent of Blacks, 25 percent of Hispanics, 20 percent of Asians, and 15 percent of Whites live in poverty in the City of Pittsburgh. 

• All of the 2012 juvenile murder victims in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County were Black. 

• While Blacks and Whites have comparable drug-use rates in Pittsburgh, Blacks have a higher arrest rate. 

• Black and Hispanic unemployment rates are much higher than those of White and Asian residents, both in Pittsburgh and across the nation.

The report, titled Pittsburgh’s Racial Demographics 2015: Differences and Disparities, uses data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Allegheny County Health Department, and other sources. Available online at, it provides indicators of quality of life by race and ethnicity for the Pittsburgh region and the United States in seven areas—families, youth, and the elderly; education; economic disparities; interracial group relations; health; mental health; and criminal justice.

It is a follow-up to 2007’s Pittsburgh Racial Demographics: Differences and Disparities, the first report the center produced and the most comprehensive study ever done on the quality of life among racial groups in this region. That report was intended to serve as a baseline. 

“The real story here is in the disparities among these groups in their overall quality-of-life outcomes and experiences,” said Larry E. Davis, dean of Pitt’s School of Social Work and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems. “It’s not the fact that these groups are racially or ethnically different that fosters protest and unrest in this country. The problem rests with the disparities among these groups to become educated, obtain employment, and live in good neighborhoods.”

The report, funded by The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation, with additional support from Pitt’s School of Social Work, included other revealing findings in the seven key areas, among them:

Families, Youth, and the Elderly

The percentage of Black two-parent families with children is lower in the Pittsburgh area than in the nation.


Of the students enrolled in private K-12 schools in the city, 72.3 percent were White, and 17.2 percent were Black.

Economic Disparities

White homeownership rates are much higher than Black, Asian, and Hispanic rates in the Pittsburgh area and the nation.

Interracial Group Relations

The typical White student in the Pittsburgh area attends a school where 90 percent of the students are White and the majority of them are not poor. The typical Black student attends a school where half of the students are Black and the majority of them are poor.


In the Pittsburgh area, Blacks have much higher death rates than Whites from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, and they also lack health insurance coverage in greater numbers.

Mental Health

In Allegheny County, significantly more Whites than Blacks use mental health and drug-abuse services, yet Blacks have substantially higher rates of emotional-health problems and mental distress than Whites.

Criminal Justice

At some point in their lives, Black males have a 32 percent chance of serving time in prison. White males have a 6 percent chance.

The report does not offer explanations as to the reasons behind the data. Rather, it has been designed as a tool for grant writers, presenters, policymakers, practitioners, teachers, and members of the community.