Demographics in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties

Summary of Study

The Institute’s Indicators project measures the progress of Northeastern Pennsylvania over time, focusing on key economic, education, public safety, health and human services, environment, and infrastructure data. In short, the report explores quality of life throughout the region.

The 2021 publication cited declining population trends in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, while Pennsylvania as a whole has seen slow but uneven population growth over the last decade. Though both counties experienced times of significant net inflow driven by migration into the region from neighboring states, this trend reversed around 2012. From 2012 to 2016, more residents left the region than entered, with higher outflow in Lackawanna County. Since 2017, the net outflow has slowed in both counties, and Luzerne County again recorded two straight years of net positive migration. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, increases have been observed in housing costs and real estate market activity – signs of migration into the region.

Furthermore, older adults comprise a larger share of the population locally compared with the Commonwealth, and children make up a slightly smaller share. This pattern has not changed drastically over the last several years. The relatively low ratio of children to senior citizens indicates potential challenges to the region’s future workforce. There will be fewer residents to fill jobs as a large number of baby boomers continue to exit the workforce. This, however, is a national challenge. Part-time and remote employment of older adults need to be a consideration for businesses. The longer lifespans of today’s older adults mean there will be an increased need for support services for these individuals as well.

Racial and ethnic diversity has been increasing in the two counties. The growth of the Hispanic/Latino population has been considerable, doubling over the last two decades and now near or greater than the statewide percentage in both counties. The percentages of Asian Americans and African Americans in both counties has also grown substantially. Accurate statistics on population will continue to be significant when it comes to apportionment of legislative representation, allocation of state and federal funds, and remaining competitive as a region.

Read the full policy report here

Feature Charticle

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development


  • Average household sizes are declining; those in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties remain smaller than the statewide average.
  • Across the three geographies, at least three-fourths of single-parent households are headed by women.
  • The proportion of male single-parent households in Lackawanna County exceeds the Commonwealth’s proportion, and more than doubles the share in Luzerne County.

Read the full policy report here