A Different Lens on Diversity


In March, Pittsburgh Today reported that the region’s seven-county metropolitan statistical area has the lowest minority workforce participation of the 15 benchmark regions. Today, we’re taking a deeper look – examining the populations in the urban cores versus the broader regions and seeing how they compare in the percentages of Asian, Hispanic, African American and multi-racial residents.

Through this different lens, there are a few interesting differences, including that Pittsburgh is not the whitest city among its benchmark counterparts. Among the 15 cities, Denver has the highest percentage of white population at 78.4 percent, compared with Pittsburgh at 66.7 percent.

The City of Pittsburgh also has the fourth-highest percentage of Asians at 5.6 percent, compared with the benchmark average of 4.1 percent.

Not surprisingly, the city has higher percentages of racial and ethnic minorities than the region as a whole, as is the case with all regions except Denver.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers.

White: White residents account for 66.7 percent of the City of Pittsburgh population compared to more than 86 percent of the population throughout the MSA, according to 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data. The most striking contrast in city and regional populations is in the Detroit, where only 14.5 percent of the city’s population is white compared to 67.1 percent in the MSA.

African American: The City of Pittsburgh has a more substantial African American population (23.8 percent) than the MSA (8.3 percent). But so do all of the benchmark cities. And the share of the City of Pittsburgh’s African American population is relatively small: Only the cities of Denver and Minneapolis have a smaller percentage of African Americans.

Hispanic: With the exception of Baltimore, all of the benchmark cities have a greater percentage of Hispanics than their respective MSAs. In Pittsburgh, this difference is slight with 3 percent of the city population identifying as Hispanic compared to 1.6 percent in the MSA. By comparison, more than 30 percent of the city of Denver’s population is Hispanic – the highest share of Hispanic residents found among the benchmark cities.

Asian: The City of Pittsburgh is home to the largest Asian population in southwestern Pennsylvania. Only in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Boston do Asians make up a greater share of the city population. However, when the entire Pittsburgh MSA is taken into account, Asians claim a smaller share of the population than in any of the other Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions.

To download the raw data (in .xlsx format), click here.