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10 Pittsburgh Reasons to be Thankful

10 Pittsburgh Reasons to be Thankful

by PittsburghTODAY

On the occasion of this great American holiday, PittsburghTODAY scoured the statistical landscape and found plenty of reasons why we, as a region, should be thankful. Here are 10 to consider this Thanksgiving.

Record employment

Southwestern Pennsylvania has endured some grim holidays when the economy turned sour and jobs grew scarce. Today, however, regional employment is at an all-time high, with 1,179,188 people working in the seven-county region.

More jobs

Steady job growth is fueling the region’s record employment. Jobs in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area grew 2.5 percent over the past five years – only four other PittsburghTODAY benchmark regions did better during that five-year, recession-marred period.

Rising home values

Many regions have yet to see home prices recover from the dive they took during the housing crisis five years ago. Not so in southwestern Pennsylvania, where third-quarter five-year trends show housing prices up 5.8 percent. In fact, the Pittsburgh MSA is the only PittsburghTODAY benchmark region where housing prices have managed to climb above 2008 levels.

Low cost of living

When it comes to the cost of housing, utilities, groceries and other living essentials, few regions are less expensive. Only benchmark regions Indianapolis and Cincinnati have a lower cost-of-living than Pittsburgh. Thinking about moving to Philadelphia or Baltimore? Be prepared to pay a lot more.

Young adults migrating here

At the peak of Pittsburgh’s economic crisis of the 1980s, tens of thousands of mostly young adults left southwestern Pennsylvania each year. Last year, some 1,800 more people moved to the region than left, a trend that began in 2008. And most are young adults, who are bringing a high level of education and their future families with them.

High schools do their job

Southwestern Pennsylvania may have some work to do to boost the percentage of residents with a college degree, but the region’s high school graduate rate is impressive. Only 7.8 percent of Pittsburgh MSA residents aged 25 or older don’t have a high school diploma. Among the 15 PittsburghTODAY benchmark regions, only Minneapolis has fewer non-graduates.

Health coverage is broad

Health care coverage is a critical economic, social and quality of life issue. When it comes to the rate of coverage, Pittsburgh does better than most regions. More than 90 percent of Pittsburgh MSA residents have some kind of health insurance. Only Boston has a higher rate among the 15 PittsburghTODAY benchmark regions.

Crime rates low and falling

Crime rates have fallen across the U.S. in recent years and the latest data show Pittsburgh remains one of the safest major metropolitan regions in the nation. No other PittsburghTODAY benchmark region reports lower burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft rates, and only a few have lower rates of homicide, robbery and rape.

Winners, at last

How can we not be thankful for the season the Pirates had? On Sept. 9 they secured their first winning season in 20 years with a shutout victory over the Texas Rangers and followed that with a wild card playoff win over rival Cincinnati before falling to the Cardinals in the Divisional Series. The Bucs are back, at last.

Happy are we

If none of the above puts a smile on your face, something else might. Southwestern Pennsylvanians are a relatively happy lot. In the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey, residents rated their happiness at 7.84 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “very happy.” That’s happier than what the World Values Survey found to be the case for America as a whole.

Stay happy this Thanksgiving.

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Posted November 25, 2013