The majority of southwestern Pennsylvanians surveyed see many aspects of the region in a positive light, including its embrace of diversity, how welcoming it is and how it compares to other places where they’ve lived.
Those perspectives are largely driven by the region’s white residents, who make up about 86 percent of the region’s population and 78 percent of the people who took the Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey. And that tends to mask some starkly different views held by minorities.
Impressions of the region
Residents’ responses suggest they are under no illusions that southwestern Pennsylvania is anything but what population data suggest it is. Only 26 percent of all residents who participated in the survey describe the region as “very diverse.” Race and ethnicity tend to influence their views.
Only 11 percent of minority residents feel the region is very diverse while 31 percent of white residents see it as such. And 35 percent of minority residents see it as “not at all diverse,” a perspective shared by only 11 percent of white residents.
How welcome do residents feel in southwestern Pennsylvania? Ask white residents, and 75 percent say they feel very welcome. But only 36 percent of minorities feel the same way.
Nearly 63 percent of white residents and 70 percent of minorities have lived outside of southwestern Pennsylvania. When asked how welcoming the region is compared with the other places they’ve lived, 71 percent of whites say it’s more welcoming, but fewer than 40 percent of minorities agree.
And 49 percent of minorities see the region as being less welcoming than where they previously lived—a sentiment shared by fewer than 15 percent of white residents who have lived elsewhere.
Does the region embrace racial and ethnic minorities? For 79 percent of whites, the answer is yes, at least to some degree. But only 41 percent of minorities say southwestern Pennsylvania is a place that embraces them.
Where residents live is also a factor. Allegheny County residents, for example, are much less likely to see the region as very diverse than those who live in the six other Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area counties: Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland. Allegheny County residents are also less likely to feel the region embraces racial and ethnic minorities and diversity in general than those who live elsewhere in the MSA. Minorities claim a larger share of the population in Allegheny than in any other county in the MSA.
One of the most striking differences between white and minority residents is in whether they would recommend the region to others. The good news for southwestern Pennsylvania is that more than 89 percent of residents overall say they would “definitely” or “probably” recommend it to others as a place to live.
But whether they’d definitely recommend the region to others depends a great deal on their race and ethnicity. Some 70 percent of white residents say they definitely would, but only 28 percent of minorities would definitely give the region their endorsement.
Race and ethnicity also divides opinions on how important it is to live in a diverse neighborhood. It’s very important to more than 47 percent of minorities. But fewer than 25 percent of whites feel the same.
Few residents feel they live in highly diverse neighborhoods. Only 19 percent of white and 17 percent of minority residents describe their neighborhood as “very diverse.” Minorities are more likely than whites to say they live in a neighborhood that is not at all diverse.
The survey suggests that southwestern Pennsylvania is not the easiest place to find to new friends. Fewer than one-third of residents overall feel it’s “very easy” to find people to socialize with. But minority residents find it more difficult to find people they are comfortable socializing with. Only 19 percent say it’s very easy to make friends, compared with 35 percent of white residents. And racial and ethnic minorities are four times more likely than whites to find socializing very difficult.
Minority residents are more likely than whites to mingle with people of another race or ethnicity, the survey suggests. More than 60 percent of minorities say they invite someone of another race or ethnicity to their home at least several times a year, compared with 50 percent of the white residents who do the same. Minorities are also twice as likely to visit the home of someone of another race or ethnicity.
However, the strength of social networks and how connected they feel to their community are among the least important reasons why residents say they would leave the region.
Only two percent of whites and two percent of minorities identify “feeling disconnected from the community” as the most important factor in deciding whether to stay or leave. And only two percent of whites and four percent of minorities say the same about the lack of a social network.
Workplace and family are mentioned much more often. More than 39 percent of minorities and 27 percent of white residents say the most important reasons that would cause them to leave are lack of advancement at work and wages. Being closer to family and joining a partner who has been relocated also are among the most often mentioned reasons why both white and minority residents would leave southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey
- Job Sectors
- Perspectives Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities
- Sexual Orientation
- Survey Methods
- Survey Data