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Identity & Community
00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770f80000Thirty years ago, the Pittsburgh region was losing more of its population than it was attracting each year, with young adults accounting for most of the exodus.Today the region’s population of 20-to-30-somethings, known as Millennials or Gen Y, is on the rise. Millennials increasingly choose to stay or move to Pittsburgh from other towns. Like each generation before them, they bring a unique blend of attitudes and characteristics that reflect their experiences and they’re reshaping Pittsburgh in some interesting ways.This web series reflects the views of Pittsburgh’s next generation, what they have to say about themselves, their community, and where they live and work.

Does Pittsburgh Meet the Needs of the Millennial Generation?


Christopher Briem, a regional economist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh and Sasha King, social scientist and independent career consultant, provide a snapshot of the city’s young people, from their economic situations to their personal values.

They say skilled young professionals seek out Pittsburgh for its affordable living, commitment to innovation and opportunities for upward mobility. Statistics mirror the growing notion that the Steel City has become a hub for cultural diversity and technological creativity, partly based on its ability to attract and retain Millennials.

This demographic of Pittsburghers range from 18 to 34 years old, and are characterized by their technological skill, their dedication to equality issues, and oftentimes their mounting student debt and unemployment.

A far cry from the blue-collar workers of the steel mills, these Millennials have college degrees and choose the city based on market size, where they feel they can gain the experience they need to make it in a larger market. King adds that the cheap housing, decent pay and opportunities are key to attracting Millennials.

“Pittsburgh is one of the top ten cities in the country where people feel as though the American dream can still happen.”

In terms of romantic relationships, Millennials, a considerable number of whom are survivors of divorced parents, have a spectrum of understandings about marriage and sex. They also distance themselves from organized religion in high numbers, which King attributes to a deadly mix of religion and politics during the Millennials’ formative years.

Millennials are passionate about issues of social justice and see their contribution to their community as invaluable. Thanks to a growth in multiculturalism in the 90’s, when many Millennials were coming of age, this generation is far more open to lifestyle changes and freedom of choice than their parents or grandparents. They live out this nondiscriminatory attitude through their diverse mix of friendships.