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York County business and educational leaders were among those in attendance at the Pennsylvania Economy League's Issues Forum Tuesday afternoon at the Wyndham Garden York.

During the forum, John Maurer, a coordinator for the Penn State Data Center, presented national, state and local population and socioeconomic statistics and trends to help highlight local issues past, present and future. All data was drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are four main takeaways for York County:

1. York's population is growing at a rapid pace

Pennsylvania's population has grown 3.4 percent since 2000, which Maurer said is a fairly slow pace. Historically, Pennsylvania sees slow, consistent growth, but it has never experience population loss since data was first recorded in 1798, Maurer said.

York County's population grew nearly twice as much as the state average since 2000, and the southcentral region of the state, in general, is responsible for much of the state's growth, Maurer said. Of the 29 counties in the state that have lost population since 2000, 25 are in the western region.

The Penn State Data Center estimates 14.5 percent population growth in York County from 2010-2040, with approximately 500,000 people expected to inhabit the area by 2040.

"The southcentral region is unquestionably at the center of Pennsylvania's future," said Loren Kroh, interim CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, after the presentation. "I'm not sure we've realized our potential in terms of influencing legislation."

That topic will come into play, Kroh said, during the alliance's Spring Legislative Luncheon, from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, also at the Wyndham Garden York.

2. Pennsylvania isn't getting any younger

With 15.4 percent of its population 65 years or older, Pennsylvania was the fourth oldest state in the country in 2010.

Meanwhile, the state's under-18 population saw a decline from 2010 to 2014, which Maurer said is also a trend nationally.

The data center's projections estimate that Pennsylvania's population 15-34 years old will remain mostly stable with a slight decrease between 2010 and 2040, while the 65-plus age range will increase consistently until the two populations are nearly equal by 2040.

The aging population is generating concerns in the labor market and health care sector, Maurer said.

3. "Things are getting tougher for the average person," Maurer said.

Pennsylvania children are increasingly being raised in single-parent homes, according to the data, which shows nearly a 12 percent increase in such households from 2000 to 2010.

In York City, more than 20 percent of the homes are occupied by single-parent households, which Maurer said has likely aided in the nearly 12 percent decline in median household income from 2005-2009 to 2010-2014.

The county as a whole saw an approximately 5.4 percent decline in median household income during that time frame.

While data shows poverty totals are much higher in York City than the county as a whole, the county's poverty rate is actually increasing at a higher rate.

The 2010-2014 poverty rate in the county increased 22.6 percent over the rate during 2005-2009, as opposed to a 17.3 percent poverty rate increase in York City during that period.

That data shows up in government benefits, Maurer said, with a 94.5 percent increase in food stamps collected in York County during that time frame.

Meanwhile, median home values have declined 7.4 percent in the state during that time, while median rent has increased nearly 5 percent in the county and 5.4 percent in York City.

"No one chooses to live in poverty," Kroh said. "It's an ugly situation."

4. Diversity increasing throughout state

Pennsylvania's population was approximately 80 percent white in 2010, but that figure was nearly 84 percent in 2000. Overall, the state's minority population grew 33 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Hispanic population saw the most growth in the state with a 16.6 percent population increase. Pennsylvania's white population declined 1.5 percent during that time.

York County's population was less than 14 percent minority during 2010, but York City was 59 percent minority-populated.

Cities generally have higher racial diversity and younger populations, Maurer said. Data suggests the state's minority population will continue growing for the foreseeable future, he added.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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