Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Survey: Living in Pittsburgh is good - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


By Jason Cato

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated 32 minutes ago

National publications have identified Pittsburgh as America’s Most Livable City, and a new survey shows many people who live in the region agree.

Residents of 32 counties in the four-state region around the city gave it outstanding marks for overall quality of life and their own happiness, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey that PittsburghToday and the University of Pittsburgh conducted.

â€Å"I’m not surprised by the survey, but I am pleased,” said Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald. â€Å"But there are areas where we can improve. There is no paradise out there, as far as I can tell.”

Although people said they are satisfied with their lives, the survey released Tuesday also showed they are concerned with health, transportation and racial disparity.

Respondents to the survey rated their personal happiness at 7.8 out of 10. The national average is 7.4. The study surveyed 1,800 people and had a margin of error of 3 percent.

The survey, which cost about $100,000, is the first of its kind, said Doug Heuck, director of PittsburghToday, which tracks statistics on the region.

â€Å"I think that it verifies something we hear anecdotally, and that is that the social fabric in the Pittsburgh area is strong and therefore the quality of life is high,” Heuck said. â€Å"People are invested here, they have family here. They know their neighbors and live here a long time. That underscores the national rankings.”

Various groups have called Pittsburgh the country’s most livable city, in 2007, 2010 and 2011. In 2009, The Sporting News named it the nation’s best sports city, and Forbes included it as a Top 10 city for job growth.

â€Å"I think Pittsburgh has a lot to offer,” said Ruth Lloyd, 55, of Avalon, a Western Pennsylvania native who spent seven years in Manassas, Va.

She and her husband spent their past two vacations in the region, visiting places such as Fallingwater, Moraine State Park and Amish country, she said. The couple often go to the theater and Pirates games.

More than three quarters of survey respondents said they attended a museum, gallery or cultural event in the past year.

â€Å"I think family ties are important to people in this region, and when I lived outside D.C., people there didn’t have those family ties,” Lloyd said. â€Å"I’d probably say happiness is a nine out of 10 for me because my family is here.”

Black respondents had less positive feelings. Just a quarter of blacks surveyed rated the overall quality of life as good or excellent, while nearly half rated it fair or poor.

â€Å"It depends on where you are in life,” said Marlon Smith, 55, who is black and lives in Bellevue. â€Å"I guess the things that make people happy are if you can pay your bills. And it helps to have spirituality and God in your life.”

Like many survey respondents, Smith highlighted public transportation as a serious issue for the region. Port Authority of Allegheny County recently raised rates again and might make drastic route and job cuts because of continued budget shortfalls.

â€Å"That’s one thing that is depressing right now,” Smith said.

He highlighted the Three Rivers Arts Festival, free jazz concerts Downtown, restaurants and the sports teams as highlights that add to the region’s quality of life.

â€Å"There’s a lot here if you are outgoing,” Smith said. â€Å"And if you can afford it.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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