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About Rural PA

Looking for some quick facts about rural Pennsylvania? Take a look below.

Demographics | Households and Families | Housing | Income
Businesses and Employment | Health Care | Education

Demographics

  • In 2010, 3.5 million people, or about 27 percent of the state’s 12.7 million residents, lived in Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • From 2000 to 2010, rural Pennsylvania’s population grew about 2 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • The population increase among rural Pennsylvania counties was not even. The population grew 7 percent in the east and declined 1 percent in the west from 2000 to 2010. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • By 2030, Pennsylvania rural counties are projected to have a total population of 3.57 million people, a 3 percent increase from 2010. (Pennsylvania State Data Center and U.S. Census Bureau)

  • From 2000 to 2010, rural Pennsylvania became more racially diverse. In 2000, there were approximately 157,200 residents, or 5 percent of the total population, who were non-white and/or Hispanic. In 2010, 260,300 rural residents, or 8 percent of the total population, were non-white and/or Hispanic. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • On average, Pennsylvania rural residents are older than urban residents. In 2009, 17 percent of the rural population was 65 years old and older compared to 15 percent of the urban population. From 2000 to 2009, the number of rural seniors increased by 3 percent, while the number of urban seniors increased by less than 1 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • From 2000 to 2030, the number of senior citizens in rural Pennsylvania is projected to increase 58 percent. In 2030, 25 percent of the total rural population will be 65 years old and older. At that time, there will be more senior citizens than children and youth in rural Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania State Data Center and U.S. Census Bureau)

  • From 2000 to 2009, the number of births in rural Pennsylvania decreased 5 percent. In urban counties, there was a 1 percent increase. During this period, 27 of Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties had more deaths than births. (Pennsylvania Department of Health)

  • Projections indicate that the number of births in rural Pennsylvania may decline, as the number of women in their prime childbearing years (ages 15 to 44) is projected to decline. From 2000 to 2030, projections show an 8 percent decline in the number of rural women in their prime childbearing years. In urban counties, the number of women in their prime childbearing years is projected to decline 3 percent. (Pennsylvania State Data Center and U.S. Census Bureau)


Households and Families

  • In 2005-2009, rural Pennsylvania had 1.4 million households: 54 percent were married couple households; 27 percent were single person households; 8 percent were single parent households; and 11 percent were other types of living arrangements. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • Twenty-eight percent of rural households had children under 18 years old in 2005-2009. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In 2005-2009, rural households had 2.4 members. In 1960, there was an average of 3.3 people per household. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)


Housing

  • In 2010, there were 1.6 million housing units in rural Pennsylvania. From 2000 to 2010, the number of units increased by 87,000, or 6 percent. In urban counties, there were 3.9 million housing units. From 2000 to 2009, the number of units increased by 230,500, or 6 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • From 2000 to 2010, rural Pennsylvania gained 1.2 housing units for every new resident. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • In 2005-2009, the homeownership rate in rural Pennsylvania was 75 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In rural Pennsylvania, 84 percent of housing units were occupied and 16 percent were vacant in 2005-2009. Of the vacant units, 54 percent were for seasonal or recreational use and 46 percent were for sale or rent, or were vacant for other reasons. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In 2005-2009, the average value of a rural owner-occupied housing unit was about $145,300. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In 2005-2009, a rural renter paid an average monthly rent of $629. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In 2005-2009, 45 percent of rural renters paid 30 percent or more of their income for rent. According to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is not considered affordable if renters pay 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)


Income

  • The average household income in rural Pennsylvania was $54,840 in 2005-2009. Among rural households, 41 percent had incomes below $35,000 and 12 percent had incomes of $100,000 or more. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In 2009, per capita personal income in rural Pennsylvania counties was $32,545, or $10,483 less than in urban counties. This gap has more than doubled since 1970, when the inflation-adjusted, rural-urban income gap was $4,900. (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

  • Rural Pennsylvania is becoming increasingly dependent on unearned income. In 2009, about 41 percent of total personal income came from unearned sources, such as interest, dividends and rent, and from government transfer payments, like Social Security and unemployment compensation. In 1970, these sources accounted for 24 percent of the total. (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

  • In 2009, the poverty rate in rural Pennsylvania was 13 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • In June 2010, about 13 percent of rural residents were eligible to participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps); about 1 percent received cash assistance from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and about 17 percent were eligible to be enrolled in Medicaid (Medical Assistance). (Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare)


Businesses and Employment

  • In the second quarter of 2010, rural Pennsylvania had an average of 84,669 employers, or 24 employers for every 1,000 rural residents. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, the number of rural employers decreased less than 1 percent. (Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry)

  • In 2008, 52 percent of rural Pennsylvania businesses had fewer than five employees. From 2000 to 2008, the number of these small businesses declined 2 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • In the second quarter of 2010, there was an average of 1.26 million people employed in rural Pennsylvania. From second quarter of 2008 to 2010, there was a decrease of 41,075 employees, or 3 percent. In urban counties, 4.17 million people were employed. From 2008 to 2010, the number of employed persons decreased by 161,857 employees, or 4 percent. (Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry)

  • In 2010 the unemployment rate in rural Pennsylvania was 9.0 percent. The urban rate was 8.5 percent. (Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry)


Health Care

  • Rural counties have fewer primary care physicians than urban counties. In 2008, there was one rural primary care physician for every 1,501 residents. In urban counties, there was one primary care physician for every 981 residents. (Pennsylvania Department of Health)

  • Along with fewer primary care physicians, rural counties also have fewer dentists. In 2009, there was one practicing dentist for every 2,662 residents. In urban counties, there was one dentist for every 1,814 residents. (Pennsylvania Department of Health)

  • In 2008-2009, there were 69 general acute care hospitals, with a total of 8,050 beds, in rural Pennsylvania. In seven rural counties, there were no hospitals. On average, there are 2.35 hospital beds for every 1,000 rural residents. There are 2.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 urban residents. (Pennsylvania Department of Health)

  • In 2007, an estimated 14 percent of rural residents under 65 years old did not have health care insurance. An estimated 11 percent of those under age 65 in urban counties did not have health care insurance. (U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates)

  • There were fewer teenage pregnancies in rural counties than in urban counties from 2003 to 2007. Teen pregnancies accounted for 3 percent of total pregnancies in rural counties and 4 percent of total pregnancies in urban counties. (Pennsylvania Department of Health)

  • In 2003-2007, rural counties had lower infant mortality rates (6.4 per 1,000 live births) than urban counties (7.8 per 1,000 live births). Rural counties also had a lower percentage of babies born with low birth weight (<2,400 grams) than urban counties in 2005 (7 percent and 9 percent, respectively). (Pennsylvania Department of Health)


Education

  • In 2005-2009, 18 percent of rural Pennsylvanians who were 25 years old and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 29 percent of urban Pennsylvanians of the same age. Fourteen percent of rural and 13 percent of urban residents did not have a high school diploma. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)

  • In the 2009-2010 academic year, an estimated 421,700 students were enrolled in Pennsylvania’s 235 rural school districts. From 2006 to 2010, the number of rural students decreased 6 percent. Enrollment projections from 2010 to 2020 show that total enrollment in rural schools will decline 4 percent. (Pennsylvania Department of Education)

  • In 2008-2009, 49 percent of rural school district revenues came from the state government; 46 percent came from local sources, such as taxes; and the remaining 5 percent came from the federal government and other sources. Among urban school districts, 35 percent of revenues came from the state; 60 percent came from local sources; and the remaining 5 percent came from the federal government and other sources. (Pennsylvania Department of Education)

  • In 2008-2009, rural school districts spent an average of $12,463 per student, an increase of 29 percent from 2000. Urban school districts spent an average of $13,145 per student, an increase of 27 percent from the 2000. (Pennsylvania Department of Education)

  • Among the more than 222,000 rural students taking the 2009-2010 math portion of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment Test (PSSA), 48 percent scored the highest ranking of “Advanced.” Among the nearly 226,600 students taking the reading portion of the PSSA, 36 percent scored Advanced. Among urban students taking the test, 50 percent scored Advanced in math and 38 percent scored Advanced in reading. (Pennsylvania Department of Education)

  • In 2008, there were 207 state-aided public libraries in rural Pennsylvania and 251 state-aided public libraries in urban Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania Department of Education)