It's been long assumed that young people were fleeing the Pittsburgh region in search of better jobs, just as they were in the early 1980s in the wake of the collapse of the steel industry.
But a report by local think tank PittsburghTODAY sharply contradicts that narrative, finding that the region is actually attracting young people, in addition to having more success in retaining its own.
The think tank examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Census in addition to surveying 417 young adults aged 18 to 34 on their attitudes, impressions, education levels and civic engagement, among other things.
The broader survey was based on 1,800 total respondents.
It found that the population of 20 to 34-year-olds in the Pittsburgh region grew by 7 percent over the past five years.
In 2011, the region saw 3,740 more people move into the region than move out, a marker known as "net migration." And about 70 percent of new arrivals were under 35.
At a panel discussion this morning that accompanied the release of the report, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stressed that elected officials need to pay more attention to what young people are looking for -- including affordable public transportation and a vibrant arts community -- to continue the trend.
"Those of us in government and those of us in public policy need to adapt if we're going to attract young people," he said.
The release of the report was timed to coincide with One Young World, a leadership summit that will draw 1,500 delegates -- all under 30 -- to the city from across the globe to attend seminars and discuss a wide range of issues, from global health to education.
Many of the delegates are employed and sponsored by multinational companies with local branches, such as Bayer.
The summit, organizers said, will shine the international spotlight on Pittsburgh in addition to serving as an important recruitment tool for local employers looking to bring more international talent to Pittsburgh.
But still, the city's employers need to do more to create "international jobs," said panelist Steve Sokol, president of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, which helped bring the summit to the city.
"What can we do to make Pittsburgh more internationally dynamic?" he asked.
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