Lawrence County Designated Part of Pittsburgh Metro Area

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Lawrence County, Pa., is now part of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA, according to the latest updates by the White House.

The revised designations were released July 21, according to a bulletin issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Previously, Lawrence County was part of the New Castle micropolitan statistical area.

Also, Mercer County, Pa., will now be designated as part of the Hermitage micropolitan area, according to the OMB bulletin. Mercer County was previously part of the Youngstown-Warren metropolitan area.

“I think going forward it will be a benefit to the county in terms of site selectors and development,” Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler said. “There may be selectors that only consider certain MSAs, so I believe it’s a positive move.”

Two contiguous counties, Butler to the east and Beaver to the south, are already part of the Pittsburgh MSA, he said. Lawrence County, he noted, is also part of a transportation district that includes Beaver and Allegheny counties, so it makes logistical sense that Lawrence be included in the Pittsburgh MSA.

The New Castle Transit Authority, for example, runs a handful of bus routes Monday through Friday directly into downtown Pittsburgh, he noted.

Moreover, Vogler and two other commissioners sit on transportation and development commissions that cover the entire western portion of the state. “We’re one of the few in the state with memberships in two regional planning districts – the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission,” he added.

The latest revisions are based on “journey to work” data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Census, according to an earlier OMB bulletin. In 2021, OMB updated its standards, allowing an outlying county to join a larger metro region if 25% or more of its residents commuted to the larger MSA for work. Or the two would be able to merge should 25% of those living in the larger MSA commute to the outlying county for their jobs.

Many Lawrence County residents commute to the Pittsburgh metro area for employment, which includes bordering MSA counties of Butler and Beaver.

Meanwhile, Vogler said there is evidence that some who work in the Pittsburgh region are building homes in Lawrence County because of generally lower taxes and lower cost of living.

The county is also home to three interstates – I-79, I-376 and I-76 – that feed into Pittsburgh, Vogler said. “It helps with people’s commuting times,” he said.

According to OMB, the Pittsburgh MSA now comprises eight counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland. 

The addition of Lawrence County adds another 84,849 people to Pittsburgh’s MSA, based on the county’s 2022 census data. In total, the Pittsburgh MSA now represents more than 2.4 million people.

Vogler noted that the county has yet to receive formal notification of the change but reiterated he’s pleased by the designation. “I think it will work to our benefit,” he said.

Pictured at top: Downtown New Castle, Pa.

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