Segregation and Change in Pittsburgh Neighborhoods: Assessing Decennial Census Population Data from 2010 to 2020

The 2020 Decennial Census Data detailing population and housing totals is upon us. In light of this, we examined segregation and change in Pittsburgh neighborhoods from 2010 to 2020 (using P2 tables from the U.S Census Bureau).

We examined whether Pittsburgh neighborhoods tended to stay the same or change between 2010 and 2020 on measures of race, ethnicity and total population. Data was pulled for census block groups and aggregated to the neighborhood level using official City of Pittsburgh neighborhood boundaries. In some cases, multiple neighborhoods were grouped together because they shared the same block group boundary as of the 2020 census.

The results should be familiar to readers of our blog and neighborhood level research in general: most Pittsburgh neighborhoods did not experience a significant change in their racial and ethnic populations. Persistent racial segregation is still the rule, not exception. However, a number of neighborhoods did experience significant change.

By cross referencing former analyses of ours and comparing relative change across Pittsburgh neighborhoods, we examined whether there was evidence of Black Displacement, Black Exodus, White Flight, Neighborhoods in Decline, and Significant Population Growth, all of which are detailed in our findings and methodology.

While persistent racial segregation was the norm, neighborhoods like East Liberty saw evidence of Black Displacement, neighborhoods like Homewood North saw evidence of a Black Exodus for reasons unrelated to gentrification; neighborhoods like Carrick saw evidence of White Flight in response to growing diversity; neighborhoods like Marshall-Shadeland are emptying out and appear to be in decline; and Downtown and other wealthy neighborhoods saw Significant Population Growth.

Access our analysis writeup and interactive map with our primary findings by clicking here.

Gentrification and Displacement in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Project has largely focused on the antecedents of persistent poverty and racial segregation/exclusion. For the following analysis we focus instead on those places that have changed dramatically in Allegheny County over the past 20 years.

In fact, challenges related to gentrification and displacement are the other side of the coin regarding persistent poverty and segregation/exclusion. Our poorest communities are so because of intentional decisions at the federal, state and local levels that starved poor Black and Brown communities of investment, in addition to the effects of white flight, outmigration and deindustrialization. It is these same communities that are the most at-risk for gentrification and displacement, given their high concentration of vulnerable residents and the nature of more traditional forms of economic development. This is especially true of development that does not offer protections for existing residents who could be pushed out as the result of higher rents and increases in property taxes.

Gentrification is the movement of higher income, higher educated residents into what are historically lower income neighborhoods and is accompanied by rising home values.

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood project assessed whether lower income neighborhoods at the start of the 21st century stayed the same or significantly changed as of 2019 American Community Survey five-year estimates on measures of household income, home value and in the percentage of college educated residents. We also assessed whether gentrification is associated with significant changes in the racial/ethnic/income demographics of neighborhoods, for lower income tracts that did gentrify.

Overall, most census tracts that were considered low-income did not gentrify by 2019. However, several tracts in Pittsburgh’s East End and on Pittsburgh’s Northside gentrified and experienced considerable displacement, with poor Black residents being the most effected group.

Click here to read about major results of the study and to explore our interactive map on gentrification and displacement in Allegheny County census tracts from 2000 to 2015-2019.