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September/October 2011

Inside This Issue:

2010 Census Offers Latest Look at Pennsylvania's Population
For more than 200 years, the U.S. Census Bureau has been collecting information on our nation’s population every 10 years. The 2010 Census continued this tradition and provides abundant new information on our state’s population.

To learn how Pennsylvania’s population, particularly its rural population, has changed over the past decade, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania analyzed the results of the 2010 Census and compared them to the results of Census 2000. The analysis found that Pennsylvania’s rural population grew during the last decade, and that its population is now older and more diverse than it was in 2000.

2010 Census background
The 2010 Census was one of the shortest in Census Bureau history. It had 10 questions that focused on the number of people living in a household, whether the householder owned or rented his/her home, and the gender, age, race and ethnicity of each person living in the household. 

Unlike previous censuses, the 2010 Census did not collect socio-economic and detailed housing information, such as income, poverty, and housing values, from residents. This type of information is now being collected through the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania focused its analysis on county-level data from the 2010 Census and Census 2000.

The results
According to the 2010 Census, Pennsylvania has a total population of 12.7 million.

Pennsylvania’s rural population totaled 3,468,243, accounting for 27 percent of the state’s population. From 2000 to 2010, Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties gained approximately 74,300 residents, a 2 percent increase for the decade. 

Pennsylvania’s urban counties also had a population increase during the last decade. In 2010, the population in Pennsylvania’s 19 urban counties totaled 9.2 million, making up 73 percent of the state’s population. From 2000 to 2010, the urban county population increased by approximately 347,000 people, a 4 percent increase for the decade.    

The increase in Pennsylvania’s rural population occurred mostly in the state’s eastern region, which had an average population gain of 7 percent. Counties in the western region had a 1 percent decline. (2010 Census Offers Latest Look at Pennsylvania Population continued on Page 3)

Statewide, 29 counties had a population decline from 2000 to 2010. The three counties with the largest declines were Fayette (-8 percent), Elk (-9 percent) and Cameron (-15 percent).

Thirty-eight counties had population increases from 2000 to 2010. The three counties with the largest increases were Monroe (22 percent), Pike (24 percent) and Forest (56 percent). Part of the population increase in Forest County has been attributed to the opening of a 2,300-bed, maximum-security prison in 2004.

Land area
Rural Pennsylvania’s total land area was 33,394 square miles, or 75 percent of all of Pennsylvania, in 2010.

Rural Pennsylvania is bigger than New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined.

Pennsylvania’s urban counties totaled 11,348 square miles, or 25 percent of all of Pennsylvania. 

Ten Pennsylvania counties had more than 1,000 square miles. The largest of these counties were Lycoming (1,228 square miles), Bradford (1,147 square miles) and Clearfield (1,145 square miles). The three smallest counties in Pennsylvania were Montour (130 square miles), Philadelphia (134 square miles) and Delaware (184 square miles).

The least densely populated counties in Pennsylvania were Cameron, Potter, and Sullivan, each with less than 17 people per square mile. The most densely populated were Allegheny, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia, each with more than 1,600 people per square mile.

Age cohorts
Among rural Pennsylvania’s 3.4 million residents, 21 percent were children (under 18 years old), 62 percent were working-age adults (18 to 64 years old) and 17 percent were senior citizens (65 years old and older).

In urban counties, children made up 22 percent of the population, working-age adults made up 63 percent and senior citizens made up 15 percent in 2010.

Rural Pennsylvania had 1.74 million females (50.3 percent) and 1.72 million males (49.7 percent) in 2010. From 2000 to 2010, there was a larger increase in the number of rural males (4 percent) than rural females (1 percent). The age group with the largest increase was that of 55-to-64-year-olds, with a 46 percent increase among men and a 38 percent increase among women.

In 2010, females made up 52 percent and males made up 48 percent of the urban population. From 2000 to 2010, the number of urban females increased 3 percent while the number of urban males increased 5 percent.

In 2010, 94 percent of rural Pennsylvanians identified their race as white only and 6 percent identified themselves as non-white or as two or more races. Among the 214,675 rural residents who were non-white, 50 percent were black, 13 percent were Asian, 16 percent were other races, such as Pacific Islander, native Alaskan or American Indian, and 21 percent were two or more races. 

Among rural Pennsylvanians who were two or more races, 62 percent identified themselves as either white/black or white/American Indian.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of whites in rural Pennsylvania declined slightly (-0.1 percent), while the number of non-whites increased 56 percent. 

In Pennsylvania urban counties, 77 percent of the population were white and 23 percent were non-white. Among urban non-whites, 61 percent were black, 15 percent were Asian, 13 percent were other races, and 9 percent were two or more races. 

From 2000 to 2010, the number of whites in urban Pennsylvania declined 1 percent and the number of non-whites increased 25 percent.

In 2010, 84,927 people of Hispanic or Latino ancestry, or 2 percent of the population, lived in rural Pennsylvania. From 2000 to 2010, the number of rural Hispanics more than doubled (108 percent). 

The highest percentages of rural Hispanics identified their ancestry as Puerto Rican (37 percent), Mexican (26 percent) and Cuban (3 percent). The remaining 34 percent identified their ancestry as being from other countries in Central or South America.

In urban counties, there were 634,733 Hispanics, or 7 percent of the population. From 2000 to 2010, the number of urban Hispanics increased 80 percent.

The highest percentages of urban Hispanics identified their ancestry as Puerto Rican (53 percent), Mexican (17 percent) and Cuban (2 percent). The remaining 28 percent identified other Central and South American countries.

More results
For the fact sheet, Rural Pennsylvania and the 2010 Census, call or email the Center at (717) 787-9555 or or visit


Chairman's Message
According to the 2010 Census, Pennsylvania’s rural population totaled 3,468,243, which closely mirrors the total population of the United States in 1790, when the very first Census was conducted.

Clearly, many changes have occurred since that time. In 1790, 95 percent of the total U.S. population lived in rural areas. By 1890, the percentage of rural residents dropped to 65 percent, and in 1990, it dropped further down to 25 percent. Today, that percentage seems to be holding steady at 26 percent.

In Pennsylvania, our rural population comprises 27 percent of our state’s total population. According to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s analysis of 2010 Census data (featured on Page 1), Pennsylvania’s rural population growth is less dramatic than the rural growth at the national level, and our state’s rural population is older and less diverse.

Overall, from 2000 to 2010, Pennsylvania’s population grew about 3 percent. Among Pennsylvania rural counties, the population growth over the decade measured about 2 percent. Nationwide, the population grew about 10 percent. The limited growth among Pennsylvania rural counties, coupled with the increase in the number of rural Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older and those aged 18 to 64, suggest some potential changes and challenges for Pennsylvania.

For example, some regions may begin experiencing workforce challenges in certain employment sectors. Others may find that comprehensive health care delivery systems, including specialty disciplines, will be needed to adequately serve an older population. And others may find the need for appropriate housing options and specific goods and services preferred by an aging population. These circumstances may provide small business development opportunities that will expand and diversify our rural economies.

It’s interesting to note that while our state’s rural population is a little more than one-quarter of the 12.7 million total population, the land area in rural Pennsylvania encompasses 33,394 square miles, or 75 percent of all of Pennsylvania.

In fact, 10 Pennsylvania counties each cover more than 1,000 square miles, including my home county of Lycoming, with 1,228 square miles.

To date, Pennsylvania has the third largest rural population in the nation. As it has in the past, rural Pennsylvania will continue to provide the food, fiber, energy, recreation, and quality of life that benefit our nation’s citizenry.

Senator Gene Yaw


Research Explores Use of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers
Small businesses play a vital role in our national and state economies.

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer assistance to entrepreneurs to start a new business or grow an existing one.

SBDCs began in Pennsylvania in 1980 and have since evolved into 18 university-based and outreach centers. SBDC’s mission is to grow the Pennsylvania economy by assisting entrepreneurs, at no cost, through a variety of services, such as accounting, legal assistance, market research and analysis, and strategic planning. 

SBDC funding is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the host university and others.

To learn more about the clients who used SBDC services and identify service patterns among rural and urban clients, Dr. Simon Condliffe of West Chester University analyzed SBDC data from 2000 to 2009.

The study, conducted in 2010, was sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

According to the results, SBDC clients were most likely to be male, white and non-Hispanic statewide. This was also true for both rural and urban clients. However, rural clients were more likely to be male, white and non-Hispanic than their urban counterparts.

Over the 10-year study period, the diversity of SBDC clients increased statewide, as the proportion of female, Hispanic and non-white clients grew.

Urban clients commanded the majority of counseling hours provided by SBDC representatives. Counseling contact hours with urban clients outnumbered those with rural clients by two-to-one. This also applied to total counseling hours. These figures were relatively unchanged over the 10-year study period. However, since 73 percent of the state’s population resides in urban counties, the proportion of urban counseling hours may be a reflection of the state’s population distribution. As a percentage of the rural and urban populations, counseling hours per capita were higher for rural clients than urban clients (12.8 hours per 1,000 rural population versus 9.3 hours per 1,000 urban population).

Service establishments, retail establishments, and manufacturers were the most frequent business types seeking SBDC assistance. This was true for both rural and urban clients. While each of these industries commanded a smaller share of total clients in 2009 than in 2000, they remain the principle business types seeking SBDC assistance.

The diversity of business types increased overall since 2000, but to a greater degree among urban clients.

SBDC clients were increasingly “pre-venture/start-up” rather than “in-business.” In 2000, 58 percent of both rural and urban clients were “in-business.” By 2009, the share had diminished to 54 percent for urban clients and 47 percent for rural clients. Correspondingly, more rural clients were in the “pre-venture/start-up” stage. 

“Start-up assistance” dominated the counseling topics statewide as more than 25 percent of counseling topics were classified as “start-up assistance.” For rural clients, the proportion was more than one-third. 

For a copy of the research results, Small Business Development Center Use in Pennsylvania, call or email the Center at (717) 787-9555 or, or visit

SBDC Clients by Business Type, 2000 to 2009


Financial Deficits Among Rural Municipalities
Debts and deficits at the international, national and state levels dominate the news these days. But how have our rural Pennsylvania municipalities been faring financially?

According to the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Governor’s Center for Local Government Services (GCLGS), 45 percent of rural Pennsylvania municipalities (714 of the 1,578 reporting municipalities) had a deficit in 2009. That is, their expenditures were higher than their revenues. The median deficit for these rural municipalities was $47,223, or $48 per person.

Deficits may result for many reasons, such as emergency expenditures or declining home values. While a deficit does not mean a municipality is bankrupt or poorly managed, it means that for a particular year, expenditures exceeded revenues. If a municipality consistently runs a deficit, however, there is cause for concern.

In 2009, 74 percent of the rural municipalities with deficits were townships of the second class and 26 percent were boroughs. The median total revenues of the typical municipality with a deficit were $418,645. The two largest sources of revenues for this typical municipality were taxes (44 percent) and intergovernmental transfers, such as the state’s Liquid Fuels Tax Fund (23 percent).

The median expenditures for this typical rural municipality were $465,865. The two largest expenditures were highways and streets (33 percent) and general government services (17 percent), which included employee salaries and benefits.

There was no significant difference in the amount of revenues collected by rural municipalities with a deficit and those with a surplus. Municipalities with a deficit received total revenues of $386 per capita, while those with a surplus received $397 per capita, an $11 difference. There was a difference in expenditures, however. In 2009, municipalities with a deficit spent a total of $434 per capita, while those with a surplus spent a total of $345 per capita. Municipalities with a deficit spent more per capita on highways, recreation and libraries, and general government services than those with a surplus.

Rural municipalities with a deficit and those with a surplus had similar populations (less than 2,000 residents), homeownership rates (83 percent), and age structures (22 percent under 18 years old and 16 percent 65 years old and older). They also had nearly identical poverty rates (9.3 percent for deficit municipalities and 9.5 percent for surplus municipalities) and similar average household incomes ($61,126 for deficit municipalities and $60,158 for surplus municipalities.)

However, municipalities with a deficit had higher average housing values ($175,103) than municipalities with a surplus ($167,490). This difference, however, was not statistically significant.

To measure the severity of municipal deficits, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania divided each municipality’s deficit by its total revenues. Among the 714 rural municipalities with a deficit, the average deficit accounted for 12 percent of total revenues. This average, however, was skewed by a number of municipalities with significantly larger deficits. For example, approximately 22 percent of rural municipalities had deficits that accounted for more than 20 percent of revenues. 

Interestingly, rural municipalities with high deficit-to-revenue ratios (20 percent or more) were very similar to rural municipalities with low deficit-to-revenue ratios (less than 5 percent). Per capita, both types of municipalities had similar revenues and expenditures and median incomes and housing values. One significant difference, however, was the market value of real estate. Municipalities with low deficit-to-revenue ratios had per capita market values of $56,365, while municipalities with high deficit-to-revenue ratios had per capita market values of $76,863.

From 2000 to 2009, the number of rural municipalities with deficits fluctuated. Of the 1,254 rural municipalities that reported financial data to GCLGS each year during this 10-year period, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that 2003 was a year of high municipal deficits.

In 2003, 659 rural municipalities, or 53 percent, had deficits, while in 2006, only 397 municipalities (32 percent) had deficits. However, from 2006 to 2009, the number of rural municipalities with deficits increased 40 percent.

Rural Municipalities with a Financial Surplus and Deficit, 2009

Note: Data exclude 74 rural municipalities that did not report financial data. Data source: Governor's Center for Local Government Services.


Number of Rural Pennsylvania Small Businesses at 16-Year Low
The number of small businesses in rural Pennsylvania is at a 16-year low, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2009, there were 55,751 rural small businesses, which are businesses with less than 10 employees. The last year when small business numbers were this low was in 1994, when rural small businesses totaled 55,763.

From 2008 to 2009, the number of small businesses in rural Pennsylvania declined 2 percent. During this period, urban small businesses had a 1 percent decline. Counties with the largest declines in small businesses were Adams, Clinton, Forest, Monroe, Perry, Potter, and Somerset, each with declines of more than 4 percent.

Nationwide, there was a 2 percent decline in small businesses. The states with the largest declines were Georgia, Michigan and Rhode Island, each with a decline of more than 3 percent.

Although their numbers have declined, small businesses still represent the majority of business establishments in rural Pennsylvania. In 2009, 74 percent of all rural businesses were small businesses. In 1994, 77 percent of all rural businesses were small businesses.

Rural small businesses were not alone in seeing their numbers decline. From 2008 to 2009, rural business establishments with 10 to 19 employees declined 1 percent and establishments with 20 or more employees declined 4 percent.

Number of Rural PA Small Businesses, 1994 - 2009

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The Large and Small of Pennsylvania Counties
What Pennsylvania county is the largest? How about the smallest? What county has the most females or the most males? Here are some answers to these and other "large" and "small" county-related questions, according the results from the 2010 Census.



Just the Facts: ER Visits
Rural hospital emergency rooms are busy places. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 1.6 million people sought medical assistance at a rural hospital emergency room (ER) in 2009-2010.

Across rural Pennsylvania, there are 69 hospitals with ERs. However, the service capabilities of these ERs are different.

Six percent of rural hospital ERs provide basic services, 78 percent provide general ER services, and 16 percent provide comprehensive services.

Essentially, ERs with basic emergency services are capable of providing care 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. They have a qualified physician in-house, 24-hours-a-day, who is immediately available to the ER. ERs with general emergency services meet all of the requirements of basic emergency service and have at least one qualified physician who is present at all times and capable of providing advanced life support. ERs with comprehensive services provide immediate and complete advanced care for all patients, including those requiring exceedingly complex and specialized diagnostic and treatment techniques. These ERS are staffed by two qualified physicians during peak periods.

Pennsylvania’s 91 urban hospital ERs served 4.3 million people in 2009-2010. The service capabilities among urban ERs also vary. Forty-nine percent of urban hospitals provide general ER services, 41 percent provide comprehensive services, and 10 percent provide basic or limited ER services.

One in seven people (14 percent) who went to a rural hospital ER was admitted to the hospital as a patient. Nineteen percent of those who visited an urban hospital ER were admitted as patients. Nationwide, 13 percent of the 123.7 million patients who visited an ER were admitted to the hospital in 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

From 2000-2001 to 2009-2010, the number of people visiting rural hospital ERs increased 18 percent and the number visiting urban hospital ERs increased 16 percent. Over this same time period, the number of hospitals in Pennsylvania decreased 16 percent.