Experts dispute census find of 1% fewer births in Western Pa.
Western Pennsylvania families welcomed an estimated 323 fewer babies in 2012 than in 2011, according to Census Bureau figures released on Thursday, but a local obstetrician questions the estimate.
“Over the last decade, I see women delaying childbirth to a later age, but overall, I see births increasing,” said Dr. Deborah Whiteside, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Magee-Womens Hospital in Oakland and Womancare Associates.
The Census Bureau released its annual population estimates, which show the 10-county region lost about 590 people between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012. The official population estimate for the 10 counties in 2012 is 2,577,497 people.
Allegheny, Butler and Washington counties gained population, while Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence and Westmoreland counties lost population.
The 10 counties around Pittsburgh had 25,645 births between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012, according to census figures. That's about a 1 percent decrease from July 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011.
Nationally, the number of births dropped by about 0.6 percent, according to the estimates.
Deliveries at Magee increased by 393, or about 4 percent, for a total of 10,438 deliveries in 2012, according to figures provided by UPMC spokeswoman Courtney McCrimmon.
Whiteside said the number of deliveries she's seeing at Magee and in her practice trended upward in the past couple of years despite a sluggish economy.
“Having babies always seems to be popular,” she said.
Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh, said fluctuation in the birth and death numbers is common, and it's possible to read too much into a single year's estimates.
For about the past five years, one factor driving population growth in the Pittsburgh area was that it did relatively well compared with other metro areas during the recession. The new estimates suggest fewer people are moving to Western Pennsylvania as the economy improves elsewhere, but the region still had a net gain of 753 people from domestic migration.
“Just the fact that it's positive for a region that had sustained decades of loss is significant,” Briem said. Given the improvement in the economy, “it sort of makes sense that it moderated a little bit.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the census figures support anecdotal evidence and studies by the Brookings Institution and other analysts that Allegheny County is attracting younger adults.
“I don't see (population changes) going negative anytime soon,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we have turned a corner.”
Ken Rayburn, executive director of the Community Development Corp. of Butler County, said he was surprised to hear that Butler County's growth in 2012 was less than half the growth it saw in 2011.
Butler County businesses “are looking for people and still growing, coming out of the recession,” Rayburn said.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Tyler Courtney said the loss of major employers such as Westinghouse, West Penn Power and Sony helps explain his county's loss of population, but gaining Spirit Airlines as a carrier at the Latrobe airport and the opening of Aquion Energy are signs of turnaround.
“We have a lot of promising opportunities,” Courtney said.
The Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which consists of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, remained the 22nd-largest metropolitan area in the country.
The next two largest metro areas, Charlotte and Portland, Ore., are growing fast enough to pass Pittsburgh in the next two to three years, according to the estimates.
The Census Bureau uses births, deaths, administrative records and survey data to produce the estimates for the 3,143 counties or county equivalents, such as parishes, in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for TribTotal Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Biden in Pittsburgh Thursday for fundraiser
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money
- Homeowners warned of bogus land surveyors
- Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers
- Public Utility Commission hearing arguments against Lyft
- Mystery continues to surround Hill District slaying
- Pitt, CMU researchers shed light on how learning works
- Court overturns convictions in Amish hair attacks
- Italian Village Pizza owners plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy
- Western Pennsylvania drivers at bottom of insurer’s safety rankings
- Corbett uninvited to labor parade over LCB issue