New data out today from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that Lancaster County’s population officially topped the half-million mark last year. The county grew by 4,415 between July 2007 and July 2008, bumping it from 497,955 residents in 2007 to 502,370 in 2008. The increase is 0.9 percent in one year.
From 2000 to 2008, Lancaster County has grown 6.7 percent. During that time period, Chester (13.4 percent) and York (11.2 percent) were the only Pennsylvania counties to grow faster.
Lancaster’s growth rate this decade has been higher than predicted. The Pennsylvania State Data Center projected Lancaster County’s 2010 population would be just 498,465. New data certainly calls into question the Data Center’s projections for Lancaster County in 2020 (pop. 526,194) and 2030 (pop. 553,293). Is it possible that the county will top 600,000 in the next decade? Sources: The Pennsylvania State Data Center (pdf) and the U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau released new data today as part of its American Community Survey program, which tracks information for certain areas between 10-year censuses. This is the first time Lancaster city, with a relatively small population (55,029 of us) was included in such an extensive Census Bureau project in the in-between years. (New York City, for instance, is always included in such studies. This time around it revealed that the number of whites in Harlem has tripled.)
The data reveals some shocking trends for our city. I compared the newly-released data against data from the 2000 census (which reflected reality as of 1999). To do this, I converted 1999 dollars into 2007 dollars (by multiplying by 1.24438087, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
We all know that the current economic recession is hurting everyone. What we didn’t realize was how badly we here in Lancaster city were getting hit already.
Household & Per Capita Income
Lancaster city – As of 2007, median household income was $31,599. In 1999 it was $37,045 (adjusted to 2007 dollars). That means household income dropped 15% between 1999 and 2007. In that same time, per capita income dropped 9%: in 2007, per capita income was $15,813. In 1999, it was $17,365.
Lancaster County – As of 2007, median household income was $63,499. In 1999 it was $56,628. When you tack on the suburbs, median household income grew 12% within the county. But, county-wide, per capita income dipped by 0.6%: in 2007, per capita income was $25,214. In 1999, it was $25,382.
Question: What do you make of the fact that in the county, median household income significantly grew, while per capita income slightly declined?
Lancaster city is not alone in hearing bad news: Every metro area in Northeast Ohio (in some ways a peer region) saw such a decline. In Wooster, median household income was down 20%.
Lancaster city – City homes declined 20% in value. The median home value in 2007 was $71,300. In 1999, it was $88,724 (in 2007 dollars).
Lancaster County – County homes increased 14% in value. The median home value in 2007 was $169,500. In 1999 it was $148,454.
This disparity in property value trending obviously has massive tax implications. Consider also the difference in aging infrastructure: 63.1% of city homes were built prior to World War II. In the county homes that old account for only 24.3% of the market. In the city, 3.6% of homes were built in the past 17 years. In the county, that number is 23.3%.
Households with Income over $100,000
Lancaster city – In 2007, there were 1,241 households earning $100k or more, representing 5.9% of city households. In 1999, there were 663 measured using 1999 dollars), about 3.1% of households.
Lancaster County – In 2007, there were 30,711 households with income $100k or more, representing 16.7% of county households. In 1999 there were 16,799 (measured using 1999 dollars), about 9.8% of households.
Below the Poverty Line
Even before the economic recession, poverty levels were increasing in both the city and the county.
Lancaster city – As of 2007, 25.4% of individuals in the city were living below the poverty line, up from 21.2% in 1999. Fully 65% of single-mother households (no husband present) with children 5 years old or younger were living below the poverty line, up from 54.9% in 1999.
Lancaster County – As of 2007, 9.1% of individuals in the county were living below the poverty line, up from 7.8% in 1999. Among single-mother households (no husband present), with children 5 years old or younger, 52.5% were living below the poverty line in 2007, up from 43.7% in 1999.
In 1999, the top 3 industries (in terms of number of people employed) were:
Educational, health and social services (19.9%)
Retail trade (13.2%)
…In 2007, the top 3 industries were:
Educational, health and social services (21.1%)
Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (12.7%)
In 1999, the top 3 industries were:
Educational, health and social services (18.2%)
Retail trade (13.0%)
…In 2007, the top 3 industries were:
Educational services, and health care and social assistance (20.2%)
Retail trade (12.0%)
It’s great to see the city’s #3 industry as of 2007.
Because I am smug enough to highlight these stats, I will. As of 2007, 11% (2,456) of us city dwellers were walking to work. That was only true of 3.5% of the county population. Another 5.2% of city dwellers were taking public transit, as opposed to 1.3% county-wide.
What’s your response to this data? Lancaster city is more vulnerable to the effects of the recession than we previously realized. Is there any way the 2010 census data can possibly look even a little bit better?