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Pittsburgh region rated No. 6 for new college graduates

Joe Napsha
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If you are a recent college graduate looking for a place to settle down, start your career and raise a family, the seven-county Pittsburgh region is a pretty good place to do it, based on a new report.

The Pittsburgh region — Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties — was rated as the sixth best place in the country for recent college graduates, those ages 22 to 27, according to findings from HeyTutor, a Los Angeles-based private firm.

That’s a pretty good, but not better than Cincinnati and Cleveland, which were rated fifth and second, respectively.

HeyTutor researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, County Business Patterns, and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to create composite scores. Only major metropolitan areas with at least 1 million residents were considered.

Here’s how the Pittsburgh region did in the criteria:

• Median income for recent graduates: $37,000 — same as the national average

• Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 2.2%

• Median rent: $794

• Median home value: $153,300

• Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 19.9 per 1,000 recent grads

• Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.2%. Based on the Pittsburgh region’s population of 2.33 million, there are about 51,300 recent college graduates.

• Cost of living: 5.7% below average

As the researchers noted:

”The “Steel City” is known for more than its roots as a manufacturing town. Today, young professionals in Pittsburgh work in a variety of industries like health care, information technology, and finance. While the median income for recent graduates in Pittsburgh is the same as the national median, the cost of living is 5.7 percent below average. Recent college grads can find plenty of fun in the downtown area at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers, which features numerous parks, museums, and art galleries.”

Despite the glowing review, an Allegheny Conference on Community Development report found that about one-half of the estimated 40,000 students who graduate each year from more than 60 higher education institutions in the region, leave for jobs elsewhere. The Allegheny Conference, a regional economic development organization, has promoted the region through its Pittsburgh Passport program for summer interns, which aims to put the area on students’ short lists of places where they want to live after graduation.

To Duquesne University President Ken Gormley, Pittsburgh has become a prime destination for recent college grads “because it blends a small city feel with cutting-edge opportunities.”

“The whole region has become world-renown for its leadership in healthcare, technology, its thriving green industry, and the wide range of non-profits and start-ups that are inventing the next great era. On top of that, the cost of living, and of buying a nice home, is far better here for young people starting a career than most major cities nationwide,” Gormley added.

”It’s hard to imagine a better place to establish roots and pursue a life that’s meaningful, rewarding and fun,” Gormley said.

There are employment opportunities in the Pittsburgh area for young college graduates, in sections such as Oakland and the Strip District, that afford them opportunity to work and enjoy the cultural amenities, the universities and sports teams, said Jennifer O’Toole, career development director at Carlow University in Oakland. Offices of Google and other international firms that are located here make it more attractive to remain here.

”The work-life balance is important to them. They want to be invested in their community,” O’Toole said.

Even though it made the HeyTutor rankings as a good place for college graduates to live, Frank Gamrat, executive director of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Castle Shannon think tank, said employment statistics show less than a 1% growth in nonfarm jobs.

“We’re growing (jobs) slower than the rest of the nation,” Gamrat said, and that’s been the pattern for about six months.

Rather than seeing job growth in the professional sector, the sector of the region’s economy is in leisure and hospitality employment, he noted.

Here is the Top 10:

1. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

2. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

3. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

4. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

5. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

6. Pittsburgh

7. Oklahoma City, Okla.

8. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

9. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.

10. Rochester, N.Y.

The complete rankings and scores can be found here:

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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