Census Local Data: Poverty Rises Sharply in Most Areas of Pennsylvania

A blog post by Michael Wood, originally published at Third and State.

Poverty has risen sharply in most areas of Pennsylvania, according to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report highlights the widespread impact of the recession and the need for policymakers to protect struggling families and invest in building a stronger economy.

Overall poverty in Pennsylvania rose by a statistically significant margin, going from 11.6% in 2007 to 13.4% in 2010. Most Pennsylvania metro areas also saw statistically significant increases in poverty from 2007 to 2010.

The number of Pennsylvanians living in deep poverty — the share of the population with incomes below half the poverty line — rose to 5.9% (726,102 people) in 2010. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, Pennsylvania was one of 40 states to see a statistically significant rise in deep poverty.

Deep Poverty Rose in 40 States Between 2007 and 2010

In urban areas of Pennsylvania, poverty rose to 14.7% in 2010 with 1,360,202 urban residents currently living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. That is up from 12.7% in 2007, before the recession started. The picture is similarly bleak in rural Pennsylvania where 9.5% of residents (287,982 people) lived in poverty in 2010, up from 8.1% in 2007.

The Shrinking of our Shrinking: Will Philly Grow Next Year?

Every year I look at the Census population estimates, and every year, I am somewhat surprised that Philly continues to lose population. This year is no different. As New York, and Chicago grow, Philly (along with Baltimore, Pittsburgh and others) keeps shrinking.

However, while it sucks to keep losing people, the trends really are starting to look pretty good:


The graph is the percent population growth for the 15 biggest cities. Philly is... at the bottom in blue. Look, for example at the first point in the graph, which is population growth from 2000 to 2001. Philly is well below everyone, except Detroit. But, if this trend keeps going, we appear to be on the verge of actually gaining population for the first time in quite a while. To otherwise see what I mean, look at the graph with the axes blacked out:


That is probably not the most statistically sound way of looking at things. But the point remains that relatively speaking, we a)started off the decade in just about the worst position of the cities shown, and b) we are consistently improving. As Ray has pointed out, population growth is not the end all of economic success for Philadelphians. But, it sure would be nice to stop hearing us referred to as a shrinking city, wouldn't it?

As an aside, for all of the Joey Vento's of the world out there, it is worth noting that without the dramatic influx of immigrants- most recently Mexican immigrants- we would still be shrinking quite a bit, as no one would be left to take ol Joey's place, after he took his Hummer to South Jersey.

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