This one thing kept Erie from losing even more of its population last year | Friday Morning Coffee
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Like a lot of Pennsylvania’s older cities and towns, the city of Erie has a common problem: It’s losing population. But it could be even worse.
At its peak, Erie had a population of about 140,000 people. It’s since dropped to less than 100,000, according to Stateline.org.
But “without the stream of immigrants and refugees,” and their children “arriving to work in the city’s plastics and biofuels plants on Lake Erie … the city’s population might have dropped as low as 80,000,” Stateline reported, citing information provided by a senior aide to Erie’s Democratic mayor, Joe Schember.
“That would mean a lot less federal funding, a lot less tax dollars, a lot more difficulty filling job openings and a lot more deteriorating housing stock,” the aide, Renee Lamis, told Stateline. “… We are a perfect example of a place in need of immigrants and refugees.”
And Erie isn’t alone.
According to Stateline, “an influx of immigrants prevented or significantly softened population loss last year in more than 1 in 5 U.S. counties,” including Erie County.
According to Stateline’s analysis of new Census data, “immigration either prevented population decline or cut it by at least 10 percent” in those areas.
And while President Donald Trump may declare the country “full,” that’s hardly the case. In fact, without the 879 people from other countries who arrived in Erie from 2017 to 2018, the county’s total population loss of 1,831 people would “would have been almost 50 percent worse,” Stateline reported.
As is the case elsewhere in the country, refugee resettlement slowed in Erie under the Trump White House.
For instance, “more than 1,000 people from Somalia, Syria and the Congo were resettled in the city in 2015 and 2016, but that number dropped to fewer than 250 in the past two years,” Stateline reported, citing federal resettlement statistics.
“We have literally hundreds of job openings, and our landlords have vacancies,” Lamis told Stateline.
The city “had to raise income taxes and raid reserve funds to make ends meet,” Stateline reported.
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