This one thing kept Erie from losing even more of its population last year | Friday Morning Coffee

April 26, 2019 7:02 am

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

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.

Our Stuff:
Elizabeth Hardison
 talks to small business owners who’d take it on the chin if lawmakers pass a bailout for the nuclear industry.
Sarah Anne Hughes wonders if this year is the year that lawmakers will finally approve a State Police fee for municipalities without their own police departments.
Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender found President Trump tweeting about U.S. Rep. John Joyce’s remarkably tuberculosis-free trip to the Southern Border.
Medill News Service reporter Camille Erickson looks at the Pennsylvania implications of that U.S. Supreme Court case on the Census’ citizenship question.

On the Opinion side of the house, state House Minority Leader Frank Dermody has a not-insubstantial bone to pick with some Republican regulatory reform bills. He’s calling them ‘the Dirty Dozen.’

Finally … today, Friday, is National Pretzel Day, Pennsylvania. Here’s everything you need to know about your favorite snack.

The president of Bloomsburg University, who has been accused of sexual harassment, has been twice forced out of previous jobsThe Inquirer reports.
PennDOT will study how high winds would affect motorists on a high, throughway bridge over the Susquehanna River, PennLive reports.
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has pleaded not guilty to an assault chargeThe Post-Gazette reports.
BillyPenn looks at what a BIden administration could mean for Philadelphia.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

The Morning Call wonders whether jailed, former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s old political consultant, Mike Fleckwill also do jail time for corruption charges.
The Incline has your first look at Pittsburgh’s newest brewery, Cinderlands, in the city’s Strip District.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, will introduce the 15th PFAS-fighting bill of the new Congress, WHYY-FM reports.
A decision by the U.S. Justice Department could cost states, including Pennsylvania, $220 million in annual Lottery profits, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).
U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans 
and Matt Cartwright have also endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential candidacyPoliticsPA reports.
Politico looks at the one place where President Donald Trump gets everything he wants.
Roll Call has three revelations about Congress that are ‘buried’ in the Mueller Report.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler 
holds a clay shoot at Seven Springs Mountain Resort today. Admission runs $1,000 and $2,500.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Shai Ben Yacov, of WHYY-FM, in Philadelphia. And to longtime Friend O’the BlogAmy Brennan, of Camp Hill. Congratulations, you two. Enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation. 
Here’s a great jam for your Friday morning, it’s ‘Down for the Fifth Time,’ by the evocatively named, Flamingosis.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Boston notched a 3-2 overtime win over Columbus on Thursday night. But in truly important news, Carolina plays Game One of its second round series against the Islanderstonight. Please don’t bother us after about 7 p.m. You’ve been warned.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.