Pittsburgh Poverty Rate Ranks Average Among U.S., Still Higher Than Pre-Recession

Nov 28, 2016

The poverty rate in the Pittsburgh region has moved up since 2005 but the trend is not strong.
Credit US Census Bureau / Pittsburgh Today

The most recent data from the U.S Census Bureau show that while poverty in the Pittsburgh region dropped in 2015, it’s still higher than it was before the recession.

In 2015, 12.3 percent of those living in the Pittsburgh region had an income below the poverty level of $24,300 for a family of four. That’s down from the post-recession high in 2013 of 12.8 percent, but higher than it was when the regional benchmarking group Pittsburgh Today started tracking the number in 2005.

Pittsburgh is close to average when it comes to peer cities said Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today. Detroit, Mich. ranks highest at 16.1 percent, while Minneapolis-St. Paul have the lowest rate at 9.3 percent. 

Heuck said the poverty rate is a good indication of how a region is doing economically, so it’s not good enough to just be average.

The study finds the poverty rate in the region among black Pittsburghers is nearly twice that of their white counterparts, while the rate for people under 18 years old stands at 17.4 percent.

“Again, that’s just about the bench average,” Heuck said.  “You don’t want that to be a high number and yet in all of (the benchmark cities) the number is higher for young people under 18.”

Heuck said that does not bode well for the future.

The good news in the report is the Pittsburgh poverty rate is down a half of a percentage point from the recession high in 2013.