(The Center Square) — Another population update from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms a long-running trend: Pennsylvania continues to shrink.

The bureau noted that American population trends are returning to pre-pandemic norms, with a 1.6 million-person gain in 2023 to approach 335 million people — but Pennsylvania lost about 10,400 people.

The commonwealth is now estimated to have 12,961,683 people, one of eight states that lost population. New York, California and Illinois lost the most people from July 2022 to July 2023. 

Pennsylvania’s neighbors are also outpacing it: New Jersey gained 30,000 people, Ohio gained 26,000, and Maryland gained 16,000. Delaware also grew by 12,000; West Virginia, though shrinking, lost only about 4,000 people.

“U.S. migration returning to pre-pandemic levels and a drop in deaths are driving the nation’s growth,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau, in a press release. “Although births declined, this was tempered by the near nine percent decrease in deaths. Ultimately, fewer deaths paired with rebounding immigration resulted in the nation experiencing its largest population gain since 2018.”

The state had 11,000 more deaths than births compared to last year’s estimates. Though about 25,000 Pennsylvanians moved to other states, the commonwealth welcomed 26,000 new residents thanks to domestic migration.

Pennsylvania had one silver lining: its population loss has slowed. After growing by 18,000 people in 2021, it lost almost 42,000 people in 2022.

Losing residents can mean more problems for those who stay. Treasurer Stacy Garrity has warned of a potential $18 billion fiscal shortfall due to a  “silver tsunami” where Pennsylvania’s older population grows as its working-age population shrinks. The Independent Fiscal Office has also warned of budgetary issues as tax revenues fall while government services expand. 

The result could be a larger tax burden on each Pennsylvanian.

The commonwealth grew rapidly between 1900 and 1960 — then slowed, taking 40 years to grow from 11 million people to 12 million in 2000. Recent decades have seen southeast and south central Pennsylvania grow, while population stagnated or declined elsewhere. 

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 the managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

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