Four take-aways from Pennsylvania’s 2020 U.S. Census data

The data, which will be used to redraw state legislative boundaries and congressional districts, showed where, and what, has changed in Pennsylvania over the last decade. 

By: - August 12, 2021 5:08 pm

State population data debuts after months of delays to the Census count (Capital-Star Screenshot).

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released population data relevant to states’ legislative redistricting and reapportionment efforts, days ahead of its Aug. 16 deadline. 

The data, which will be used to redraw state legislative boundaries and congressional districts, showed where, and what, has changed in Pennsylvania over the last decade. 

Here are a few noteworthy changes from the 2020 Census data as redistricting efforts continue.

Population Shifts

Census officials noted that metropolitan areas across the country grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2020. This resulted in 86 percent of the population living in a metropolitan area in 2020, compared to 85 percent in 2010. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city with more than 1.6 million people, ranked in the top 10 largest cities in the country by population, according to census data, however it dropped in rank from 5th largest in the nation in 2010 to 6th largest in 2020. 

Chart by the U.S. Census Bureau

“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau, told reporters Thursday. “This decline is evident at the local level where around 52 percent of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations.”

Pennsylvania, which will lose a congressional seat in current reapportionment efforts, saw more population growth in counties in the southeastern part of the state and in pockets of northeastern and western counties. 

Percent Change in County Population: 2010 to 2020

The Biggest and Smallest Counties

The five largest counties in Pennsylvania by population are: 

  • Philadelphia, 1.6 million
  • Allegheny, 1.25 million
  • Montgomery, 856,553
  • Bucks, 646,538
  • Delaware, 576,830

The five smallest counties in Pennsylvania by population are: 

  • Cameron, 4,547
  • Sullivan, 5,840
  • Forest, 6,973
  • Fulton, 14,556
  • Potter, 16,396

Where We Live

Nationally, group quarters or group living arrangements, including places such as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled-nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workers’ dormitories saw a 3.2 percent increase from 2010 numbers.

College and university student housing was the most populous group living arrangement, according to the data, with more than 2.7 million residents. 

The second-largest group quarters population was in correctional facilities for adults at 1,967,297, which decreased from the 2010 Census by 296,305 people or 13.1 percent.

Pennsylvania recorded more than 404,000 people living in group quarters in 2020. Forest County logged the largest number of people living in group quarters with 2,809 of its residents 6,973 in group quarters. 

Racial and Ethnic Makeup

The white population remained the largest race or ethnicity group in the United States, according to Census Bureau data. However, the nation’s multiracial population increased from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276 percent increase. 

Additionally, 62.1 million people identified as Hispanic or Latino in the 2020 census and 46.9 million people identified as Black. 

The number of Americans who identify as Asian – alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity – totaled 24 million people. 

“We’re not surprised by the findings,” Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor of race and ethnic research and outreach at the Census Bureau said, adding that the results aligned with other trends and findings. 

The percentage of Pennsylvanians who identified as “white alone” decreased by 6.3 percent over the decade to 75 percent.

Black Pennsylvanians accounted for 10.9 percent of the state’s total population in 2020, according to census data. 

The state’s Hispanic and Latino population grew from 5.7 percent of its total population in 2010, to 8.1 percent in 2020, a 45.8 percent increase statewide. 

Lehigh, Berks and Monroe counties saw the largest increases of their Hispanic and Latino populations

Despite the pandemic-related delays to the 2020 census count, acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin reassured reporters that the 2020 data was accurate. 

“We are confident in the quality of today’s results,” Jarmin said. 

The bureau will release the same data in another, more user-friendly format and provide DVDs and flash drives containing the data to states by September 30, 2021.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.