The population of McKeesport, which is close to Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, has been declining at an alarming rate. Not every Pennsylvanian city is doing well, despite the state’s rich history and varied culture. McKeesport is one of the cities where population loss is concerning, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The state’s fastest-shrinking city is McKeesport, Pennsylvania. As per the 2020 census, the population of the city has decreased by 26.8% from 2000 to a mere 17,731 people. The decline of the steel industry, which was once a significant employer in the city, is one of the many causes of this decline.
A Legacy of Steel
The history of McKeesport, which is situated in Allegheny County, immediately south of Pittsburgh, is closely associated with the steel industry. Driven by the need for steel production during World War II and the post-war economic boom, the city boasted a population of over 55,000 at its height in the 1940s.
However McKeesport suffered greatly from the collapse of the steel industry in the later half of the 20th century. Locals fled in search of better opportunities elsewhere when steel mills closed and jobs vanished. In the 2020 census, the city’s population fell to a low of 17,731.
Factors Contributing to the Decline
The population of McKeesport was declining for several reasons. The most important factor was definitely the decline of the steel industry. Unemployment rates increased dramatically as steel mills closed, causing hardship on the economic front and a deterioration in the standard of living.
In addition, years of disregard for the city’s infrastructure caused problems. Because of the state of the public buildings, bridges, and roads, McKeesport was less appealing to prospective businesses and residents.
A rise in both poverty and crime rates exacerbated the problems facing the city. Due to the vicious cycle of decline these factors created, McKeesport found it challenging to draw in new investments and boost its economy.
McKeesport is a city dealing with a number of challenges, including a declining population. Maintaining public services, housing, infrastructure, and the general standard of living for the surviving residents is one of the major challenges. In addition, the city needs to address environmental problems like flooding, pollution, and abandoned buildings. In addition, McKeesport’s poverty rate—which stands at 32.5%—is noticeably higher than the state average, and the median household income—which is $28,750—is much lower than the state average of $61,744.
McKeesport presents a number of chances for development and revitalization despite its difficulties. The city has a great location along the Monongahela River, which links it to Pittsburgh and other markets. McKeesport is a community rich in history and culture, with museums, festivals, historic sites, and a diverse population. In addition, the city offers a number of resources and programs targeted at enhancing the environment, health, education, and economy. The McKeesport Hospital Foundation, the McKeesport Collaborative, the McKeesport Rising Project, and the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus are a few of its notable residents.