(The Center Square) — The American population might be growing, but Pennsylvania remains a leading state for Americans to flee rather than stay.
The commonwealth is one of eighteen states to lose population in 2022, according to new data from the Census Bureau, and one of the worst performers. The data is confirmation of a long-running trend: Pennsylvania has a population problem, and the end isn’t yet in sight.
The latest Census data shows the American population grew by 1.26 million (0.4 percent) since a year ago, with the primary growth being more than 1 million immigrants landing on American soil. Natural change (births minus deaths) added almost 250,000 Americans.
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“A rebound in net international migration, coupled with the largest year-over-year increase in total births since 2007, is behind this increase,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau.
Pennsylvania, however, is seeing little of that growth. It was second in the nation (behind Florida) with the biggest natural decrease (more deaths than births) of 23,000 residents. Neighboring Ohio was third, with a 19,500 resident drop.
While Pennsylvania remains the fifth most populous state with just under 13 million people, it’s ranked fourth for the biggest one-year population decline. Since July 2021, the commonwealth has lost 40,000 people.
Some of the Keystone State’s woes reflect regional trends. While the South and the West have continued to grow in population and in economy, the Midwest and the Northeast keep losing population. Its’ people keep leaving for greener pastures away from home.
“The declines in these regions were due to negative net domestic migration,” the Census noted.
Those declines aren’t new.
This brain drain remains one of the greatest challenges facing Pennsylvania. Combined with an aging population and working-age individuals leaving the labor force, these trends offer a dismal outlook for our state’s economy and fiscal situation.
“The Keystone State lost residents to other states in all but one year since 2010,” the Commonwealth Foundation noted. “The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) projected, in October 2021, that the state will lose 250,000 working-age adults during the five-year period, 2020 to 2025.”
That loss of workers has some serious consequences.
“This brain drain remains one of the greatest challenges facing Pennsylvania,” said Nathan Benefield, senior vice president at the Commonwealth Foundation. “Combined with an aging population and working-age individuals leaving the labor force, these trends offer a dismal outlook for our state’s economy and fiscal situation.”
Lowering taxes, the Commonwealth Foundation argues, could help keep workers from leaving for greener pastures, as well as cleaning up bureaucratic red tape, among other problems for the state.
For the foreseeable future, Pennsylvania looks to be a state that’s a launchpad to go elsewhere, instead of becoming a hub that attracts Americans from across the country.
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.