Rate of uninsured rises in central Pa.

The percentage of residents under the age of 65 without health insurance increased across the board in central Pennsylvania from 2019 to 2020, although some counties’ rates were less than the national median.

The 2020 data from the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates Program, recorded in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, was just released by the Census Bureau.

Estimated county uninsured rates ranged from 2.3% to 41.4%, with a median rate of 10.7%.

For the state as a whole, the uninsured rate for people under 65 rose from 7% in 2019 to 7.7% in 2020. In central Pennsylvania, the following increases were reported:

· Adams County, 7.7% to 8%.

· Cumberland County, 6.9% to 7.4%.

· Dauphin County, 7.7% to 8.9%.

· Franklin County, 8.5 to 10.9%.

· Lancaster County, 11.2% to 14%.

· Lebanon County, 8.2% to 10.3%.

· Perry County, 9% to 13.2%.

· York County, 6.1% to 7.4%.

Nationally, 34% of U.S. counties had an estimated uninsured rate below 10% in 2020, compared with 4.1% of counties in 2013 when most of the Obamacare provisions were yet to go into effect.

The largest share of counties with uninsured rates under 10% were in the Northeast and the Midwest; the South had the biggest share of counties with high (more than 15%) uninsured rates.

In every state and the District of Columbia, estimated uninsured rates for non-Hispanic white populations were lower than for Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations under the age of 65, with the uninsured rates for Hispanic populations the highest.

This month, using the most updated information, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that the national uninsured rate reached an all-time low of 8% in early 2022.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Biz, Latino readers push for accurate 2020 census

With millions of dollars in federal funding depending on the accuracy of the 2020 biennial census, government agencies, business groups and Latino community leaders are working to ensure every resident is counted.

“In Pennsylvania, we receive $39 billion each year from census-derived data to support federal programs,” said Megan Briggs, director of community investments at Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

LVCF is taking a leadership role in the census, investing staff-time, resources, and funding to ensure every person is counted in 2020.

“An undercount of the estimated 670,000 Lehigh Valley residents puts federal funding at risk, while also decreasing the amount of representation our community has in government,” Briggs said.

The census, which is conducted every 10 years, is required by the Constitution. In addition to being used to allocate seats in Congress, it’s also used to determine where billions of dollars in federal tax dollars are spent.

Census data is used by businesses to define markets and scout new locations for expansion. It’s also used to allocate money to fix ailing infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; education programs, including worker training critical to attracting employees and retaining companies.

For those reasons and more several organizations are stepping up to get a complete and accurate count on Census Day, April 1, particularly among the immigrant populations who are often reluctant to respond. In central Pennsylvania, one organization is poised to launch an education program at the end of the year to make people, particularly those in Latino and minority communities, aware of the importance of sending in their census form.

George Fernandez, owner of Latino Connection, a marketing and communications agency in Penbrook, Dauphin County, said his organization is starting a grassroots campaign called Inspiration 2020, designed to reach people throughout the state wherever they work, live and play. The organization will use a decorated van to visit sites around the region.

“We are looking for partners that want to welcome us on their job site,” Fernandez said.

With the upcoming federal election and Census 2020, Fernandez believes it’s a critical time for Latinos. The organization will promote the count using music, family, faith and community, he said. It will also televise its message on 60 TV screens in corner stores and bodegas around the state.

“A lot of the decisions businesses make today are based on data from the census,” Fernandez said, but acknowledged there is fear of it in the Latino community.

In Allentown, the nonprofit LVCF, is collaborating with nonprofit organizations in Census track areas in the city’s down town, Bethlehem’s south side and in Easton’s West Ward, as part of its Civic Engagement: Census 2020 Initiative. These areas were undercounted by more than 30 percent in 2010, resulting in a 10-year loss of federal funding. The foundation committed $65,000 to the effort.

Four nonprofit organizations are receiving $10,000 grants to participate in the initiative: Promise Neighborhoods of Allentown, Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley of Bethlehem, Project of Easton, and Make the Road Pennsylvania of Allentown.

LVFC also has a Census Equity Fund to support several initiatives, including: providing organizations with technical assistance and training, building awareness through events for nonprofits, and collaborating with the region’s nonprofit, business and government stakeholders.

“An undercount will increase the demands placed on the area’s nonprofits and the philanthropic community to try to fill the gap of decreased federal funds and services,” said Bernie Story, LVCF president and CEO. “Instead of needing to make up that gap, we are proactively funding efforts and investing resources to ensure a complete and accurate count.”

In Berks County, efforts are underway to focus on getting an accurate count in target areas that include Reading and part of Maxatawny Township outside Kutztown University.

In Reading, some of these areas include parts of the downtown known to have transient populations and many immigrants, said Isabel Monterrosa, publicity coordinator for the Berks Complete Count Committee at the Center for Excellence in Local Government at Albright College in Reading.

Counting immigrants

Undercounts can occur if immigrant populations don’t trust the process. That fear was made worse when the Trump Administration asked the U.S. Census Bureau to add a question about citizenship to the form. The request was withdrawn amid protests and court challenges.

Part of the outreach effort will address concerns about the questions, and to underscore that Census takers swear an oath to protect the privacy of the individuals from whom they obtain data, Monterrosa said.

Communities use the money to make grants for business expansion and economic development, and businesses rely on the data to project growth and develop hiring strategies, said Monterrosa, who acts as a liaison to the Census bureau.

“The goal is to bring awareness of why it’s so important to our community,” she said. “All of the social programs will receive federal funding. They are going to benefit from these services.”

While the business community is becoming more aware of the importance of the Census, many in the general public don’t know that completing the survey is a civic duty, like voting and serving on a jury.

The 2020 Census is also the first that allows residents to respond online. This, too, Monterrosa said, will present challenges in terms of ensuring people who do not have Internet access can complete it.

Access to the web is being provided via a mobile lab through the local libraries, said Dave Myers, an adviser with Berks Alliance, a nonprofit. Those labs can be sent to neighborhoods that lack internet access.

In Berks County, 4 to 5 percent of the county’s population, about 16,000 to 17,000 people, were missed in 2010, Myers said.

“Because of that, there was a lot of funding that was missed.”

If the same percent is missed in 2020 it could cost Berks County about $350 million, according to a report in the Reading Eagle.

Focus on Latinos

The Latino population is growing, which makes education around the Census that much more critical, Fernandez said, noting that Reading elected its first Latino mayor, Eddie Moran, and county commissioner, Michael Rivera.

“Latinos are front and center of the Presidential election,” Fernandez said. “I think the efforts around education are vital to the success of Pennsylvania. Pure education is going to be vital to our success.”

David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp., say they are poised to start the education campaign early next year.

“We’ll be doing a push at about the time the census information starts dropping in people’s mailboxes and people start canvassing,” he said.

The Harrisburg business community has not shown much concern or awareness about Census 2020, according to Black.

“We want to make sure we are counted and they try to get things as correct as possible, not just for our region, which is a growing region in Pennsylvania like the Lehigh Valley, but Pennsylvania as a whole,” Black said.

Women make gains, but pay gap still exists, Census Bureau says

Despite gains in median earnings and decreases in poverty rates, the wage gap between men and women remained static in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report indicated women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men among full-time, year-round workers in 2018, about the same as the previous year.

Other findings included:

  • The number of female workers with earnings increased by approximately 1.1 million, while the number of male workers did not change.
  • The number of women working full-time, year-round increased by 1.6 million, while the number of men increased by about 700,000 between 2017 and 2018.
  • Median earnings for women were $45,097, while median earnings for men were $55,291 in 2018, an increase of 3.3% for women and 3.4% for men from the prior year.
  • The poverty rate for men was 10.6% in 2018, unchanged from the previous year. The rate for women was 12.9% in 2018, down from 13.6 percent in 2017.
  • Poverty rates were down for white, black and Hispanic women.

The gender pay cap is one area of focus for the Pennsylvania Commission for Women which formed by executive order of Gov. Tom Wolf in October 2017.

The commission will hold a series of salary negotiation workshops for women across the commonwealth, an initiative made possible through a partnership with the American Association of University Women and its “Work Smart” program.

“It is unacceptable that women in Pennsylvania are still making just 80 cents on the dollar compared to what a man makes,” Wolf said in a press release. “And there are far too many employers who refuse to even acknowledge the gender pay gap, much less work to eliminate it.”

The next workshop will be held Oct. 28 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Harrisburg University, 326 Market Street.

Workshops will also be held on Nov. 6 in York, Nov. 19 in Scranton, Dec. 2 in Pittsburgh and Jan. 13 in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania showing its age: 65-plus population grows 19 percent this decade

Senior-living providers should be able to cast a wider  net for residents in Pennsylvania as the commonwealth continues to show its age.

Pennsylvania’s senior citizen population this decade has grown by more than 19 percent, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania State Data Center, which analyzes data estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The commonwealth’s population overall has grown by just 0.8 percent over that span.

There are now more than 2.3 million people age 65 or older in Pennsylvania, up from about 1.9 million in 2010. That represents 18.2 percent of the  population in Pennsylvania, which totals 12.8 million.

The largest increase over the last eight years was in Pennsylvania’s 70-to-74 cohort, which grew by 34.3 percent, according to the data center. Nipping at their heels was the 65-to-69 age group, which posted a 33.4 percent increase since 2010.

On the flip side, Pennsylvania’s biggest decreases since 2010 have come in the 45-to-49 and 40-to-44 age group. Those segments of the population dropped by 16.6 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively.

In Central Pennsylvania, the 65-plus crowd ranges from 17 percent of the population in Dauphin County to 19.4 percent in Lebanon County. Cumberland, Lancaster and York counties all fall within that range.


Guest view: Latest census data reveals trends to watch

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released new population estimates that account for and compare the resident population for counties between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018. The outcome? There are shifts in population taking place across the nation that may differ from what you might assume. Here are the highlights at a national and local level.

What’s happening locally?

Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and York experience consistent growth. The most notable trend between 2010 and 2018 in Central Pennsylvania is that these counties all experienced consistent growth year-over-year. Moreover the growth was fairly even over the last eight years.

Another trend worth noting is that the counties have maintained the same order of ranking based upon population for eight-plus years. For example, in 2010 the counties in order of smallest population to largest were Cumberland, Dauphin, York and Lancaster. This is the same ranking we see in 2018, and every year in between.

Lancaster remains the largest and fastest-growing county. At 984 square miles, it also is the largest of the four counties. Between 2010 and 2018 it experienced the largest numeric growth at 24,112 people. No. 2 in numeric growth was actually the smallest of the four counties, Cumberland County, which grew by 16,017 people. York County grew by 13,301 people and Dauphin County grew by 8,997 people.

What’s happening nationally?

The census data confirmed that counties with the largest numeric growth are located in the south and the west. In fact, Texas claimed four out of the top 10 spots. Looking at population growth by metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas had the largest numeric growth, with a gain of 131,767 people, or 1.8 percent in 2018. Second was Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona, which had an increase of 96,268 people, or 2.0 percent. The cause of growth in these areas is migration, both domestic and international, as well as natural increase. In Dallas, it was natural increase that served as the largest source of population growth. For Phoenix it was migration.

The fastest growth occurred outside of metropolitan areas. Surprisingly, no new metro areas moved into the top 10 largest areas. Of the 390 metro areas in the U.S., (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), 102, or 26.2 percent experienced population decline in 2018. The five fastest-shrinking metro areas (excluding Puerto Rico) were Charleston, West Virginia (-1.6 percent); Pine Bluff, Arkansas. (-1.5 percent); Farmington, New Mexico (-1.5 percent); Danville, Illinois (-1.2 percent); and Watertown-Fort Drum, New York (-1.2 percent). The population decreases were primarily due to negative net domestic migration.

North Dakota was home to the fastest-growing county. Among counties with a population of 20,000 or more, Williams County, North Dakota, claimed the top spot as the fastest-growing by percentage. This county’s population rose by 5.9 percent between 2017 and 2018 (from 33,395 to 35,350 people). The rapid growth Williams County experienced was due mainly to net domestic migration of 1,471 people in 2018. The county also experienced growth between 2017 and 2018 by natural increase of 427 people and international migration of 52 people.

There is more growth than decline. Out of 3,142 counties, 1,739 (or 55.3 percent) gained population between 2017 and 2018. Twelve counties (0.4 percent) experienced no change in population, and the remaining 1,391 (or 44.3 percent) lost people. Between 2010 and 2018, a total of 1,481 (or 47.1 percent) counties gained population and 1,661 (or 52.9 percent) lost population. Though there has been more growth than decline overall, the numbers indicate that this can easily shift year over year.

A deeper dive into the census data reveals several demographic changes impacting commercial real estate development: household formations, aging baby boomers, growing millennials, women in the workforce and migration toward the South. Today’s demographic changes present challenges for commercial real estate developers, but they also offer lucrative opportunities to firms creatively adapting to new demands.

Mike Kushner is the owner of Omni Realty Group, a real estate firm in Harrisburg. He can be reached through www.omnirealtygroup.com.

Census: Central Pa. cities, suburbs growing

Central Pennsylvania’s population continues to grow more rapidly in its suburban communities, but people also are flocking to cities like Lancaster, Lebanon and York.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2018 put these cities, among the region’s largest population and job centers, ahead of their 2010 Census figures.

Lebanon grew the most between the 2010 Census and July 1, 2018, adding 425 residents to reach 25,902 people.

York added 400 people over that eight-year span, hitting an estimated population of 44,118 in 2018, while Lancaster picked up nearly 100 residents and now has a projected 59,420 residents.

Harrisburg, meanwhile, shed about 300 residents since 2010, but the capital city has seen mild growth over the last two years. Harrisburg had 49,229 residents in 2018 compared with 49,172 in 2016.

For decades, cities lost population as the suburbs developed around them. Those losses have been leveling off as developers are building more upscale apartments in cities.

Many people are drawn to city living because of a vibrant social scene with bars and restaurants, as well as other cultural attractions. Younger professionals are largely driving the rental growth in urban areas.

Concentrated growth

Overall, most municipalities in Pennsylvania have lost residents since 2010. The bright spots for growth are mostly concentrated in southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Leading the charge has been Silver Spring Township in Cumberland County. Silver Spring was No. 2 in Pennsylvania among townships for most residents added between the 2010 Census and July 1, 2018, according to an analysis by the Pennsylvania State Data Center.

Silver Spring, which has helped propel fast-growing Cumberland County to the top spot among counties, saw its population rise by more than 4,300 residents over eight years to 17,967.

Only Upper Macungie in Lehigh County grew more than Silver Spring since 2010, adding nearly 4,700 new residents.

The data center said that 546 of Pennsylvania’s 1,547 townships saw their population grow since 2010.

But more than 75 percent of boroughs and nearly 80 percent of cities lost population.

Of the 205 boroughs that added residents, Mt. Joy in Lancaster County was No. 5 for growth with 815 new residents since 2010. Carlisle, the Cumberland County seat and a borough, grew by 514 people. Carlisle had an estimated 2018 population of 19,196 people, according to the Census.

Pennsylvania saw 12 of its 56 cities add residents since 2010, according to the Census data. Philadelphia remains the largest-growing city. It added more than 58,000 residents, pushing the city’s population to nearly 1.6 million people.

Trailing Philadelphia were Allentown and Bethlehem in Lehigh County, followed by Reading in Berks County at No. 4.

Allentown added more than 3,300 residents, while Bethlehem’s population expanded by more than 800 residents. Reading, meanwhile, added 479 residents.

Lebanon was fifth among cities for growth.

Overall, Pennsylvania had about 12.8 million people in 2018, according to the Census. That was up from about 12.7 million in 2010.

Cumberland still fastest-growing county, but Lebanon now No. 2

Photo: GettyImages

The title of fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania still belongs to Cumberland County, but there is a new No. 2 this year: Lebanon County.

The Pennsylvania State Data Center, which analyzes U.S. Census Bureau data, said Thursday that Cumberland County saw its population rise by 6.8 percent between 2010 and 2018. But Lebanon County was not far off the pace at 5.8 percent, surpassing Centre and Lehigh counties. Centre and Lehigh were second and third last year.

Lancaster County remained at No. 5 this year with a 4.6 percent growth rate this decade.

“It’s an easily accessible region as a whole,” Rob Cleapor, a partner in Lebanon County-based Iron Valley Real Estate of Central PA, said of the midstate growth.

He believes Lebanon County, in particular, has benefited from the growth in neighboring midstate counties like Dauphin and Lancaster. For people who work in Hershey, he said land and home prices have been historically cheaper in areas like Palmyra, which has spurred residential growth.

The Jonestown and Fredericksburg areas have become more attractive for housing growth, he said, because of the new warehouses and factories gravitating along Interstate 78 and Interstate 81 between Lebanon and Berks counties.

The data center said the southcentral and southeastern counties continue to be the bright spots in Pennsylvania for population growth as the northern and western parts of an aging commonwealth decline.

In fact, Pennsylvania’s population has fallen this decade in 47 of the state’s 67 counties, though it has increased by 0.8 percent since 2010. There are 12.8 million people in Pennsylvania.

By numerical growth, Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania, reported the largest growth with 58,129 new people since 2010. Philadelphia County’s population is nearly 1.6 million people.

Cumberland County, meanwhile, had 251,423 people as of July 1, 2018, an increase of 16,018 people since the 2010 Census.
Lebanon County added 7,737 people and has a reported population of 141,314 people. Lancaster County is much larger with 543,557 people. The county grew by 24,111 people since 2010.
The center said Dauphin County’s population rose by 8,974, or 3.3 percent, to 277,097, while York County added 13,265 people, or 3 percent more since 2010. The York County population is now 448,273 people.
The biggest population declines in Pennsylvania since 2010 occurred in Westmoreland (14,583), Cambria (11,951) and Erie (8,523) counties. By percentage, Cameron County lost 11.7 percent of its population this decade and now has 4,492 people, according to the Census.