Publications » Newsletter

Email You can now receive our news and information via e-mail. To sign up for email delivery of our news, click here.
Newsletter Archive Newsletter Archive

May/June 2003

Inside This Issue:


Framework for Heritage Tourism Development
The places, events and stories of Pennsylvania's past are evident in its small towns, proud cities, scenic landscapes, museums, ethnic festivals, and cultural institutions. Over the years, Pennsylvania has made significant investments in its heritage sites and stories. And in turn, these have made a return on that investment by attracting visitors from in and around the commonwealth. In 2000 alone, Pennsylvania's heritage travelers spent about $5.6 billion on food, lodging, transportation, and other goods and services during their visits. Heritage travelers, while comprising just 22 percent of domestic leisure visitors, deliver 40 percent of tourism related expenditures.

Recognizing the heritage resources of Pennsylvania, a group of state agencies and industry associations joined forces in 2001 to oversee a yearlong planning process identifying what statewide actions would enable Pennsylvania's heritage tourism development system to provide a better visitor experience, improve communities and enhance the quality of life they offer residents, and increase resultant economic benefits. The group, which formed an Oversight Committee, includes the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, PA Historical and Museum Commission, PA Departments of Community and Economic Development and Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Tourism and Lodging Association, PA Convention and Visitors Bureaus, PA Heritage Parks Association, and Westsylvania Heritage Corporation.

The work plan included establishing a diverse statewide Task Force of about 45 people, and holding nine regional workshops to receive input, feedback, and direction from those engaged in heritage tourism efforts. The collective effort is now available in the recently completed report, Heritage Tourism Development: A Policy Framework for Pennsylvania.

The document's objectives and strategic options reflect two principles that form the foundation of all its recommendations: heritage tourism is deeply rooted in stewardship, and the heritage tourism development industry should share information so that investment decisions can be made from performance assessment tools, market research and best practices. The primary goal in the Policy Framework is for heritage tourism and economic development to become fully integrated throughout Pennsylvania. To achieve that goal, the following four objectives have been identified: secure sustainable funding, upgrade heritage experiences, market heritage strategically, and increase leadership capacity.

Sustainable Funding
To attract visitors and their money to Pennsylvania, the heritage tourism system relies extensively on attractions owned by public sector or non-profit entities. Most charge little for the experiences they offer and most of the economic benefits are realized by offsite hospitality enterprises. To secure dedicated annual funding, economic investment should be tied to the industry's revenue generation. For example, funding should be aimed at economic activity largely generated by tourism, and funding sources to small businesses that are tourist-serving enterprises should be expanded.

Upgrading Experiences
Strategic investments are needed to enhance the visitor's quality experience and to help Pennsylvania remain competitive with other states. Investments should be based on consumer behavior, market appeal and return on investment while ensuring visitor hospitality and safeguarding the character created by the built and natural environment. Increased technical assistance to the heritage tourism community can result in an improved visitor experience. Improved hospitality services, increased ties among venues, and clearly defining quality standards can improve the overall heritage experience for the visitor and sustain a "sense of place" for Pennsylvania communities and residents.

Market Strategically
Marketing Pennsylvania's heritage tourism offerings is critical to bringing the lucrative segment of the leisure travel market to our state. Visitors, however, represent just one target audience for the heritage tourism system. Heritage tourism's contributions to the economy and quality of life make all Pennsylvanians stakeholders in its success. By making better marketing decisions, improving communications tools and directing efforts more strategically, resultant cost savings may be used for audience research and visitor satisfaction surveys that benefit the entire heritage tourism system.

Cultivate Leadership
Heritage tourism interests are numerous and diverse, involving multiple state agencies and many nonprofit and private sector enterprises. One central office devoted to coordinating heritage tourism development at the state level could enable Pennsylvania's many dedicated practitioners to marshal their own resources more efficiently and effectively. Leadership for the heritage tourism industry could evolve from several existing structures, based on current and future industry activities and the need to balance centralization with collaboration.

Improving performance, value
Heritage tourism is fundamentally about placemaking: economic development and land stewardship that together create vibrant Pennsylvania communities. Tracking the performance of heritage tourism is crucial for demonstrating its value to the commonwealth. Measuring performance and reporting on the economic activity of tourism is the keystone of Heritage Tourism Development: A Policy Framework for Pennsylvania.

All those who contributed to this planning process hope these ideas take root and contribute to a stronger integration of economic development, community enhancement, and heritage tourism development. The Policy Framework can guide future efforts to ensure that Pennsylvania's heritage tourism development system fulfills its promise of making communities great places to live, work, invest, and visit.

Copies of the report are available from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and by electronic access on the PA Tourism and Lodging Association's website at


Tell Us How "Rural Works" for You
Is your rural community or organization acting on its idea of building a better rural Pennsylvania? If so, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania would like to hear your story to share it with others.

Over the next several months, the Center will collect information about the work of rural Pennsylvania communities, organizations and groups who, through innovative programs, projects or partnerships, are improving their rural communities' conditions, and providing opportunities to sustain the good works they have achieved. The program should be currently running or should have started and been completed between January 2000 and this year.

After the Center has received and compiled the information, it will feature the stories in its newsletter and in a special publication. The publication will provide details about the programs and projects so that other rural communities may replicate the models to use in their communities. The Center also plans to use the publication to celebrate the success of the programs and applaud the commitment of those involved.

To provide us with details of your project, program or partnership, contact the Center for Rural Pennsylvania for an information form at (717) 787-9555 or download the form, available in pdf format, at The completed forms should be returned to the Center by Friday, October 31, 2003.


Chairman's Message
In April, I was pleased to present to the Pennsylvania General Assembly the results of a statewide strategic effort to promote heritage tourism. With the assistance of a PowerPoint program prepared by the staff of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a strategic plan to enhance heritage tourism promotion was unveiled. Executive Director Barry Denk explained how various state and local agencies, including the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, worked diligently in compiling this vision for the past two years in order to ensure visitors to our great commonwealth leave with a greater appreciation of our historic contribution to the nation. For residents, this plan works to ensure that quality of life and economic benefits are integral to the direction private and public entities pursue in promoting our state's tourism resources. The plan, which is highlighted in the feature story on page 1, offers some exciting ideas for Pennsylvania tourism, the commonwealth's second largest industry, and we look forward to its implementation and the continued success of heritage tourism efforts statewide.

Don't miss our request for feedback that is highlighted on page 1. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is compiling statewide information on how projects, programs or partnerships are helping rural areas thrive. We hope to hear from public and private organizations that are working to improve conditions in their rural community or communities. Success stories will be gathered together by the Center over the next few months and presented in Rural Perspectives and a print publication. Rural Works will be a way of celebrating and sharing with others the work of rural Pennsylvania communities, organizations and groups who are acting on their ideas to build a better rural Pennsylvania. Let us hear from you soon.

I am always proud of the work performed by the staff of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. They produce quality reports that are filled with useful information in user-friendly formats. I am pleased to announce three fact sheets completed in-house on the topics of small town municipal computer use, socio-demographics of rural Pennsylvania, and rural unemployment. The fact sheet on municipal computer use is based on a survey of small boroughs and townships statewide, while the other fact sheets are based on data available from the U.S. Census Bureau and state Department of Labor and Industry, respectively. For copies of any of the fact sheets, contact the Center.

Finally, as we enjoy the beauty and bounty of this spring season, let us show our patriotism and appreciation for our military men and women who bravely defend our freedoms in faraway lands. Whenever the opportunity arises, say thanks to our veterans and let them know their service to their country will never be forgotten. God bless America.

Representative Sheila Miller


Municipal Computer Use
Most small municipalities are keeping pace with technology, but Internet access continues to be an issue, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
The survey of Pennsylvania boroughs and townships with populations of less than 2,500 residents revealed that 80 percent of small municipal governments have computers and that more than 50 percent of municipal computers were less than two years old.

The survey also revealed that, among the small municipalities with computers, 72 percent can access the Internet and 28 percent cannot.

The most common method of accessing the Internet was by telephone (dial-up modem). Less than 10 percent of small municipalities had high-speed access to the Internet using cable modem, a T-1 line, or DSL.

Small municipalities that access the Internet have larger budgets, more full-time employees, and relatively newer computers than those municipalities without Internet access. Of those small municipalities that do not access the Internet, the top reasons to forgo access are cost and need.

For a copy of the survey results, entitled Municipal Computer Use, contact the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email


Trends in Rural Pennsylvania
Socio-demographics - So That's a Rural Pennsylvanian!
Meet John or Jane Q. Rural: a 38-year-old white person of German decent who was born in
Pennsylvania, earned a high school diploma, got married, and now has a household income of $47,713.

That, in a nutshell, is your average rural Pennsylvanian in the year 2000. How does our average rural Pennsylvanian compare with other persons living in the commonwealth's rural and urban areas? Let's take a look.

If you were to meet the average rural Pennsylvanian in 2000, you'd encounter a 38-year old white non-Hispanic. That person could be either male or female since 50 percent of rural Pennsylvanians are male and 50 percent are female. Rural women are older, at an average of 39.4 years of age, compared to men at 37.1 years. Children (under 18 years old) comprise 25 percent of the population while the elderly (age 65 and older) make up 15 percent. Urban males are a bit younger (average 36.2 years) and females a bit older (average 39.9 years) than their rural counterparts. And the urban gender balance is skewed with 52 percent of the population being female.

The general rural population is older than it was a decade earlier. The average age in rural areas in 1990 was 36 years, two years younger than in 2000. In addition, 24 percent of the population was children and 13 percent were age 65 or older in 1990. The age makeup of the rural population has changed as the total number of children increased by less than 1 percent while the number of elderly increased by more than 15 percent.

Minorities, persons who are non-white and/or are Hispanic, account for less that 5 percent of the total rural population. In urban areas, 22 percent of the population is minorities.

Between 1990 and 2000, the number of minorities in rural Pennsylvania more than tripled. While minority populations in these areas are certainly increasing, part of the reason for the magnitude of this increase is that the 2000 Census offered more race self-identification options.

Digging Deeper
Let's look at some other demographic details in the areas of ancestry, place of birth, and disability status. One in four (25 percent) rural Pennsylvanians reported German as their most prominent ancestry. American (United States), Irish, English, and Italian followed at between 6 and 8 percent each. In 1990, 40 percent claimed German ancestry, 8 percent each claimed Irish and English, and 5 percent were Italian.

Just over 1 percent of the rural population was foreign born in 2000, meaning that about 99 percent are native-born Americans. Of those native born, 82 percent were born in Pennsylvania. A decade earlier, 84 percent of rural Pennsylvanians were born in the state and 1 percent were foreign born.

About 18 percent of rural Pennsylvanians have some sort of disability, which can include sensory, mental, physical, self-care (dressing, bathing or getting around the home), going outside the home (alone to shop or visit the doctor's office), and employment (working at a job or business). Of those with disabilities, 44 percent have more than one type. The most common disability type is one that inhibits employment while the least common is self-care.

Social Characteristics
Family Life

Of the population age 15 and older, 64 percent are married. Of those not currently married, 21 percent have never been married, 7 percent are widowed, and another 7 percent are divorced. In urban areas, 54 percent are married while 29 percent have never been. Again, the widowed and divorced are at about equal numbers although each slightly higher than in rural areas. There has not been much change since 1990 when 65 percent of rural residents age 15 and older were married, 22 percent had never been married, 6 percent were divorced and 8 percent were widowed.

Household makeup is another indicator of family life. A household, defined by the Census Bureau, is a person or persons who occupy a housing unit. A family is two or more people residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption. In rural Pennsylvania, 75 percent of households are comprised of families while 21 percent are persons living alone and the balance is other non-family households. Among family households (families), 35 percent are the traditional married couple with kids. Meanwhile, 8 percent are single parents and nearly half are married couples without children.

In 1990, the picture was just a little different. About 78 percent of households were families, 86 percent of families were married couples (with or without children), and 7 percent of families were single parents.

Income, poverty, and labor force statistics are important indicators of economic well-being. The average rural household income, according to Census 2000, was $47,713, nearly $6,500 less than the urban average. At the same time, the rural average was an increase of almost 47 percent, or 12 percent adjusted for inflation, from 1990.

Also in 2000, the rural poverty rate was 9 percent. The rate is higher for children (under age 18) at 12 percent, but lower for both the elderly (age 65 and older) and working age adults (age 18 to 64) at 8 percent each. In 1990, the rural poverty rate was higher at 10 percent.

Rural civilian labor force participation is at 62 percent, meaning that nearly two-thirds of the population age 16 and older who are not in the Armed Forces are working or looking for work. The labor force participation rate is 70 percent for men and 55 percent for women. Of those in the civilian labor force, most are working. Fewer than 5 percent are unemployed. Overall rural civilian labor force participation in 1990 was the same as in 2000 at 62 percent but different between the sexes - 52 for women and 72 for men. The unemployment rate was higher at 5.9 percent.

Educational attainment data show that 22 percent of rural Pennsylvanians age 25 and older never finished high school. The most common level of schooling is a high school diploma or equivalent at 41 percent. Many, though, have attained higher education levels: 15 percent had some college but no degree, 5 percent had an associate's degree, and 17 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. Rural education levels have improved since 1990 when 38 percent had less than a high school education and 14 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. A "Trends" fact sheet specifically on education will be released later this year.

Rural Pennsylvanians have certain definable characteristics, but they are changing over time. Since 1990, rural residents are, on average, older, more racially diverse, better educated, and are making more money. More women are in the labor force and unemployment is lower.

Want more info?
For the fact sheet Trends in Rural Pennsylvania, Socio-demographics: So That's a Rural Pennsylvanian!, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email

Definitions and Data Source
Rural - All residents of Pennsylvania municipalities in which the population density, based on the 2000 Census, is lower than the statewide figure of 274 persons per square mile or with a total population under 2,500 persons, unless more than 50 percent live in an urbanized area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The remaining municipalities are considered urban. This detail is possible for this fact sheet since it includes only Census data, which is available at the municipal level.

Socio-demographics: Characteristics of a person or group of persons. Here, demographics are innate characteristics like age, race, and gender while social characteristics are ones acquired in society, such as education, income, and marital status.

All data come from the 1990 and 2000 Census, U.S. Census Bureau.

NOTE: Trends in Rural Pennsylvania is a series of articles that examines nine major areas of interest in rural Pennsylvania. The areas of interest are based on the mandates outlined in the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's enabling legislation (Act 16 of 1987), and include: agriculture; economic development; local government capacity and fiscal stress indicators; transportation; socio-demographics; health care and human services; environment and natural resources; education; and the condition of existing local infrastructure.

We will examine the trends in each interest area from 1990 to 2000, or the best time period according to data availability, and will make comparisons between the rural and urban areas of our state.

A more detailed fact sheet on each featured topic will also be available upon request by calling or emailing the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at the contact information listed at the bottom of page 2.

This is the third article in the series. The others examined health care access and affordability, and transportation.


Snapshot: The Rural Unemployed
In 2000, 58,900 individuals were unemployed in rural Pennsylvania, representing a rate of 5 percent. Data from that same year indicate that the typical rural unemployed person was 40 years old, had a high school education, was unemployed for about 14 weeks, and was previously employed in a manufacturing or service sector job.

Collecting the data
To better understand the challenges and opportunities for the unemployed in rural areas, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania analyzed Unemployed Compensation Claims data for the year 2000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I). Through a special arrangement, the Center received a sample of the year 2000 unemployment claims.

For national figures, the Center used data from the 2000 and 2001 Current Population Survey (CPS), collected and tabulated for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Pennsylvania's Rural Unemployed
In 2000, an average of 58,900 rural Pennsylvanians were unemployed over a 12-month period, the lowest number of unemployed persons since 1974. The annual unemployment rate in rural areas was 5.0 percent, while the state rate was 4.2 percent and the national rate was 4.0 percent.

Sixty-three percent of the rural unemployed were male and 37 percent of the rural unemployed were female. Their average age was 40 while the average age of urban unemployed persons was about 41.

On and off the job
The average number of years a person spent working before becoming unemployed was 5.6 years. Males had an average tenure of 5.7 years, and females had an average of 5.4 years. Those with a college degree had an average job tenure of less than four years, while those without a high school degree had an average tenure of about six years.

Workers in the mining and manufacturing sectors spent an average of more than eight years on the job before becoming unemployed. Workers in the retail trade and service sectors spent an average of more than three years on the job before becoming unemployed.

Many unemployed persons are entitled to receive weekly compensation checks. The amount of compensation is based on a formula that includes the person's prior employment wages and job tenure. Examining the number of weeks a person received compensation allows us to measure the duration of unemployment.

According to L&I data, the average rural unemployed person received slightly less than 14 weeks of compensation and the urban unemployed person received about 15 weeks of compensation.
Among the rural unemployed, there was no significant difference between males and females in the number of weeks of compensation. Both received an average of 14 weeks of compensation.

National figures
In 2000, 5.6 million Americans were unemployed. Approximately 54 percent of the unemployed were male, and 46 percent were female.

Also, nearly 57 percent of the U.S. unemployed was under 35 years old.
Among the U.S. unemployed, 13 percent were previously employed in the manufacturing sector.

Want more info?
For the complete fact sheet, The Rural Unemployed, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email

Unemployed: All civilian persons 16 years of age and older who are not employed but are available for and actively seeking work.

Unemployment rate: The ratio of unemployed people to the civilian labor force.

Civilian Labor Force: All non-institutionalized persons 16 years of age and older residing within a specific geographic area, excluding members of the Armed Forces and those non-employed persons who are not looking for work.

Rural: Using its 1990 definition, the current definition at the time the analysis was completed, the Center identified a county as rural if 50 percent or more of the population was defined as rural by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1990. Counties that were less than 50 percent rural were considered urban. Counties were also coded according to region.


Did You Know . . .

  • If Pennsylvania's 7.1 million acres of farmland were put together, it would be bigger than each of the states of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and six others.

  • Between 1991 and 2001, the average per acre value of farm real estate, adjusted for inflation, increased 7 percent. Nationally, the average value of farm real estate increased nearly 21 percent.



Just the Facts: The Data Daffodils are Blooming
After a long cold winter, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is finally seeing signs of spring. From our window, we can see loads of data daffodils blooming:

  • This spring, data estimates from the Pennsylvania Department of Education show that 37,700 rural high school seniors will be putting on a cap and gown and walking up to a podium to receive their diplomas. More than 15 percent of these students will be in a graduating class of less than 100 students.

  • Spring is a busy time for maternity wards. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, between 1999 and 2001, more than one third of the babies born in rural Pennsylvania arrived in March, April, May and June.

  • For funeral homes, spring is a relatively slow time since most deaths in rural areas (44 percent) seem to occur between October and February.

  • Jobs become more plentiful in the spring. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, between 1999 and 2002, rural employment increased 2 percent between the first quarter (January-March) and the second quarter (April-June). During this same period, the number of unemployed persons declined about 20 percent.

  • Ice cream producers are very busy in the spring. Records from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) show that more than 15 million gallons of ice cream were produced annually from April to June from 1999 to 2001.

  • Chickens also get into the swing of spring. Again, PDA records indicate that more than 522.1 million eggs were produced between April and June each year from 1999 to 2001.

  • Spring can be a busy time for home buyers and others buying property. Over the last three years, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue collected about 25 percent of its realty transfer tax between April and June.

  • Along with tweeting birds, spring also brings the sound of hammers and saws. According to Census Bureau data, in 2002, nearly 30 percent of all new housing construction in Pennsylvania was authorized between April and June.