Demographic Changes in Central PA Cities and Major Towns
"Downtown" and "Main Street" are terms that we often hear that refers to the core business or commercial area of cities and towns. These terms have become buzzwords that are used to help brand a place where economic development is occurring. It's a place where businesses want to be and people want to live, work, and play. Many studies have suggested that the demographics of cities are shifting or are likely to shift in the future. The Millennial crowd will find these places attractive since they are more likely to be renters than homeowners, as well as because of convenience and lifestyle. These studies have also suggested that it is likely you will see a larger Baby Boomer population selling their homes in the suburbs and moving into the cities for some of the same similar reasons. These shifts and changes in the demographics will definitely have an impact on the future of cities and major towns.
In this analysis, we wanted to quantify some of the demographic changes we have seen in a set of Central Pennsylvania's cities and major towns and also some of the changes we are likely to witness over the next five years. For this article, the set of cities and towns that we analyzed include the following: Carlisle, Cumberland County; Chambersburg, Franklin County; Elizabethtown, Lancaster County; Gettysburg, Adams County; Hanover, York County; Harrisburg, Dauphin County; Hershey, Dauphin County; Lancaster, Lancaster County; Lebanon, Lebanon County; Lititz, Lancaster County; Reading, Berks County; York, York County.
Change in overall Population
In our set of Central Pennsylvania cities and major towns, the populations of each range from about 7,700 to 88,300; Gettysburg being the smallest of the set and Reading being the largest. Within these 12 areas, there is a combined population of approximately 370,000 people. On average, these cities and towns have seen a growth rate of about 1.9% since 2010. Over the next five years, they will continue to see a population growth rate of about 2.5%. Individually, all 12 cities and towns saw positive growth rates between 2010 and 2015 and are likely to continue to see positive growth through 2020.
The chart below illustrates the population growth rates for our set of cities and major towns in Central Pennsylvania between 2010 and 2015 as well as the forecasted growth rate from 2015 to 2020. From 2010 to 2015, Carlisle had the highest population growth rate of about 4.3% followed by Elizabethtown (3.3%), and Lancaster (3.0%). The five year forecast suggests that Lititz (3.2%), Lancaster (3.1%), and Harrisburg and Carlisle (3.0%) are likely to see the highest growth rates through 2020.
Data Source: US Census
population change by age group
When looking at the combined population of the 12 cities and towns, we learn that in 2015, the age group which had the highest number of residents living within these areas was the 25 to 34 year olds (55,000), followed by the 18 to 24 year old group (49,000). Together, these two groups combined make up about 28.1% of the total population in these areas. Individually, the cities and towns with the highest percentage of population being in these two age groups are: York, Lancaster, Reading, Carlisle, Gettysburg, and Elizabethtown.
Over the 15 year period between 2000 and 2015, the age group that experienced the most growth based on percentages, was the 55 to 64 year olds. Population in this group increased almost 54%. Over the next five years through 2020, the group that is likely to have the highest amount of growth in these cities and towns is the 65 to 74 year olds (23.4% growth rate).
The chart below is a combined overall look at population growth by age group in this set of cities and major towns in Central Pennsylvania. The data compares the population growth rate from 2000 to 2015 to the anticipated growth rate from 2015 to 2020 broken down by each of the age categories. The group with the highest growth rate between 2000 to 2015 were those aged 55-64 years. The group that is likely to see the highest amount of growth over the next five years are those aged 65 to 74 years within this set of cities and towns.
changes in household income
The average household income in our set of Central Pennsylvania cities and towns have seen pretty tremendous growth over the past 15 years since the year 2000. The average household income over the set in 2015 was $62,044 which represents a 46.3% increase since 2000. It is projected that the average household income will continue to increase through the year 2020 at an average growth rate of about 10.8%.
Growth in average household income is due to an increase in the number of households that make on average more than $50,000 per year. In the year 2000, there were approximately 33,800 households living in these cities and towns that made more than $50,000 per year. By 2015, there were 57,100 households with average incomes above $50,000 (a 69.2% increase). Those households that have an average income below $50,000 have been decreasing over the past 15 years. In 2000, there were 101,980 households making on average less than $50,000 per year. That has since then decreased to 83,100 households in 2015 (about -18.5% change over this time period).