2020 Census Data on Northeastern Pennsylvania

Summary of Study

The 2020 U.S. Census, conducted with unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed that Pennsylvania’s population grew at a slower rate than other states, increasing by 2.4%. As a result, the commonwealth will lose one congressional seat in the House of Representatives.

In northeastern Pennsylvania, growth was slightly more modest. Populations in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties increased less than 1% and 2%, respectively. The largest population decreases occurred in the Northern Tier counties, with Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming each declining by 4% or more. Susquehanna experienced the largest percentage population decline of any county in Pennsylvania. The Pocono counties of Carbon, Monroe, and Wayne reported minimal declines, and in the case of Pike, moderate growth. The remaining regional counties – Columbia and Schuylkill – each experienced population decreases between 3 and 4%.

In the previous ten years, racial and ethnic diversity has rapidly increased throughout the Commonwealth and the region. Pennsylvania’s population of residents identifying as white and non-Hispanic dropped 5%. Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties reported declines in white non-Hispanic populations of 9 and 12%, respectively, indicating that the area’s population is becoming more diverse at an even faster pace than Pennsylvania as a whole. Similar trends are evident in the neighboring counties.

Lackawanna and Luzerne counties also noted significantly higher rates of growth in black populations, with respective increases of 55 and 47%, compared to only 3% growth statewide. Lackawanna County saw the largest percent increase of black residents of any Pennsylvania county, and its Asian population grew by 88% as well (increasing from 1.8 to 3.4% of the total population). The region’s Hispanic population also expanded at a higher rate than the state – particularly in Luzerne County, with the second-highest growth rate (118%) and the second-highest number increase (25,407) among counties statewide. Hispanic or Latino residents now comprise 14.4% of Luzerne County’s population – more than double the 6.7% share in 2010. The numbers of Hispanic and black residents also grew more rapidly than the statewide rate in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s ten surrounding counties.

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Feature Charticle

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development

Findings:

  • Lackawanna County’s population grew by less than 1% during the decade, while Luzerne County’s grew by 1.5%.
  • Together, the two counties increased in population from 535,355 to 541,490 – a net increase of over 6,000 residents in the 10-year period.
  • Ten surrounding counties in the greater Northeastern Pennsylvania region experienced overall declines in population – a 3% total decrease.

Read the full policy report here