Educated Young Adults Moving to Pittsburgh Region in Pursuit of Jobs, New PittsburghTODAY Report Shows

Issue Date: 
October 15, 2012

Despite Pittsburgh’s mass exodus of young people in the 1980s, data released by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) and PittsburghTODAY show that over the past five years Pittsburgh has seen a seven percent influx of young people ages 20 to 34.

 The 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 UCSUR and PittsburghTODAY, a partner organization of Pitt.

“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 to 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as a regional weakness, with complaints ranging from the cost of fares to unreliable service, recent service cuts, and outdated payment procedures.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 to 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 were collected through 120-question survey and transcripts from five focus group sessions conducted with young adults during the summer of 2012. From USCUR, regional economist Christopher Briem and Urban and Regional Analysis Program Director 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, Print copies may be requested by contacting Emily Craig at