Population still going downhill
Allegheny County's population continues to decline, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The July 2003 figures show that the county -- which remains the state's second-largest -- lost 7,277 people, or 0.57 percent of its population, from the previous year. Between July 2001 and July 2002, the county lost 5,458 residents, or 0.4 percent of its population.
The county's estimated population is 1,261,303 -- the nation's 29th highest.
In the seven-county region, only Butler and Washington counties gained residents.
Between July 2002 and July 2003, Butler County had an estimated gain of 1,806, or 1 percent; and Washington County, with a gain of 613, or 0.3 percent.
Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette and Westmoreland counties all lost less than 0.5 percent of their populations, according to the Census estimates.
Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research, said most of the region's population decline came from individuals ages 65 or older.
"Because the region is slightly older than the state, our proportional rate of decrease in the elderly population will likely exceed the states for a few years," Briem said in an e-mail.
Among the other Pennsylvania counties that made the country's Top 100, only Philadelphia County lost more of its population than Allegheny County.
The state's largest county lost 0.63 percent of its population, or 9,441 residents, between July 2002 and July 2003. Philadelphia County now has 1,479,339 residents, according to the Census estimates.
Census figures show Pennsylvania's population increased since the 2000 Census, but southwestern Pennsylvania lost residents. How the Valley's counties stack up:
Allegheny: Lost 20,363, or 1.6 percent of its population
Armstrong: Lost 733, or 1 percent of its population
Butler: Gained 5,957, or 3.4 percent of its population
Westmoreland: Lost 1,769, or 0.5 percent of its population
Statewide: Gained 84,401, or 0.7 percent of the population