Friday, June 28, 2024

Aging and population loss in small-town Pennsylvania

That's the topic of Tim Crane's story in the Washington Post last weekend, "'Too many old people’: A rural Pa. town reckons with population loss."  Here's an excerpt from the report, dateline Sheffield, Pennsylvania, a census-designated place with a population of 1,123

Across rural Pennsylvania, there is a deepening sense of fear about the future as population loss accelerates. The sharp decline has put the state at the forefront of a national discussion on the viability of the small towns that have long been a pillar of American culture.

America’s rural population began contracting about a decade ago, according to statistics drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A whopping 81 percent of rural counties had more deaths than births between 2019 and 2023, according to an analysis by a University of New Hampshire demographer. Experts who study the phenomena say the shrinking baby boomer population and younger residents having smaller families and moving elsewhere for jobs are fueling the trend.

According to a recent Agriculture Department estimate, the rural population did rebound by 0.25 percent from 2020 to 2022 as some families decamped from urban areas during the pandemic. But demographers say they are still evaluating whether that trend will continue, and if so, where.

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