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Thank you to the following organizations for their continued support of our research and this Data Dashboard, which is part of Project STIR (Sparking Transformation using Information & Research).

Moses Taylor Foundation
The Robert H. Spitz Foundation
Willary Foundation
Scranton Area Community Foundation
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
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Demographics

The first section of the Indicators report covers demographics – the size and composition of the two counties’ populations, and the dynamics driving population change. The section reports on population, age distribution, birth rates, ethnic diversity, and the change in household size, as well as other important characteristics of the region’s demographic makeup.

Population

By 2019, each county experienced a small decline in estimated population compared with the prior year. The populations in both geographies are estimated to have fallen from the 2010 census, which had shown increases from the previous census in 2000. From 2000 to 2019, Lackawanna County saw a decline of just over two percent and Luzerne County’s population fell by about one percent, compared to a growth of just under one percent statewide.

Statewide, population has grown gradually, though there was a small drop from 2018 to 2019

Population Overview

Recent Population Trends

Migration

Over the last decade, Lackawanna County saw a negative net migration of over 5,000 residents. Luzerne County saw a net positive migration of over 1,100 residents, with the greatest inflow between 2008 and 2011. Both counties saw increasing rates of migration out of the county from 2011 to 2016. Since that time, migration into each county has begun to balance the outflow, turning the net population losses in Luzerne into net gains in the most recent two years, and narrowing the gap in Lackawanna County.

Lackawanna County Migration

Source: Internal Revenue Service

Luzerne County Migration

Source: Internal Revenue Service

Birth Rates

Lackawanna County’s birth rate has fluctuated; in 2018 it fell to its lowest level among recent years, before increasing in 2019. In Luzerne County, there were several gradual small increases in the birth rate, which was 20.7 in 2018 – before a drop to 20.3 in 2019. The statewide birth rate has declined each year since 2014, and has fallen by over ten percent since 2000.

Birth Rate Per 1,000 Female Residents

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Age Distribution

Over the past five years, the largest age category in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties and in Pennsylvania was generally 45 to 54 years. Statewide and regionally, however, the 25 to 34 age group has matched or exceeded this share of the population. In both counties and statewide, growth in the population aged 25 to 34 years reflects the relatively large size of the Millennial generation.

Across all three geographies, the share of population aged 60 or older has trended upward, especially when compared to the year 2000. This age group accounts for about 27 percent of the population in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties and over 25 percent statewide. By comparison, the group was about 24 percent of the regional population in 2000, and less than 20 percent statewide.

Age Distribution: Lackawanna County

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Age Distribution: Luzerne County

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

 Age Distribution: Pennsylvania

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Ethnic diversity has increased in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In all three geographic areas, the percentage of non-white residents has grown considerably over the last five years and compared to the 2000 census.

The percentage of Asian-American residents in Lackawanna County has quadrupled since 2000. Luzerne County saw its share of Asian-American residents rise. The proportion of African-American residents in Lackawanna County has grown from 1.3 percent in 2000 to 3.5 percent in 2019. African-Americans made up over seven percent of the Luzerne County population in 2019 – up from 1.7 percent in 2000, and a noticeable increase from the prior year’s estimate. Both counties have also experienced large increases in their percentages of multiracial residents compared with 2000.

The size of the Hispanic/Latino communities in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties and Pennsylvania have also increased significantly since 2000. In Lackawanna County, Hispanic residents accounted for 1.4 percent of the total population in 2000; by 2019, that percentage increased to 7.5 percent. Luzerne County’s Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 1.2 percent of residents in 2000; by 2019, that percentage increased to 11.9 percent. From 2000 to 2019, the state’s Hispanic population increased at a slower but still substantial pace. While Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties have historically been less diverse than the state as a whole, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino residents in both counties has been near or greater than that of the Commonwealth, particularly for Luzerne County.

Race by Lackawanna County

Race by Luzerne County

Race by Pennsylvania

Hispanic or Latino Residents

As a Percent of Total Population

Household Size

The average household size has fluctuated for Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, as well as for Pennsylvania. It has decreased every year since 2015 in Lackawanna County and since 2016 in Luzerne County, as has the state’s average household size. For both counties, the household size remains below the statewide average of 2.42.

Household Size

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Single Parent Families

The share of all households that are single parent households with children under age 18 dropped in all three geographies in 2019. However, this is due to a data classification change that now excludes unmarried couples (for example, a mother or father who lives with their own children and an unmarried partner). The updated estimates provide a more accurate view of single parents raising children without another adult in the household.

Across the three geographies, at least three-fourths of single-parent households are headed by women, and Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties have a higher share of single mother households than Pennsylvania as a whole.

Female Single Parent Households with Children Under 18

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Male Single Parent Households with Children Under 18

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

While data for Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties are difficult to analyze (due to many years of insufficient sample sizes for Lackawanna County), the number of grandparents raising grandchildren in Pennsylvania has fluctuated significantly over the period examined. Statewide, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren fell from 2013 to 2017, declining by over 18 percent in that period, but saw two straight years of increases in 2018 and 2019.

Luzerne County saw fluctuation in the number of grandparents raising grandchildren, averaging 2,458 over the last decade. The most recent two years represent the highest and third highest estimates of the ten years analyzed. Data for Lackawanna County is limited, but from 2016 to 2018, the estimated number of grandparents raising grandchildren averaged 1,312.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

2010201120122013201420152016201720182019
LackawannaNDNDNDNDNDND1,7719591,207ND
Luzerne2,1822,9272,4062,1832,3982,3112,2802,1173,2042,572
Pennsylvania86,96880,52191,56492,96491,53188,49581,88476,00581,39282,556

Ratio of Children to Seniors

The ratio of children to seniors is one measure of the population dynamics of a region. A ratio of children to seniors below 1.0 suggests that the replacement rate to maintain steady population is not being met (before accounting for the effects of migration). However, a falling ratio can also indicate that as adults live longer into advanced age, seniors simply represent a larger share of the population compared to other age cohorts. The ratio of children to seniors has shown a downward trend from 2015 to 2018, though the ratio grew slightly in 2019. The statewide ratio has also seen a generally downward trend since 2015.

Lackawanna Ratio of Children to Seniors

Luzerne Ratio of Children to Seniors

Pennsylvania Ratio of Children to Seniors

Seniors Living Alone

For all three areas, the number of senior citizens aged 65 years or older living alone fluctuated in the periods examined. Lackawanna County saw two straight years of decline after the estimate spiked in 2017. Luzerne County saw the second straight year of moderate growth in this statistic in 2019. In both counties combined, there have been over 31,000 seniors living alone in each of the past four years. Statewide, the number of seniors living alone has been steadily growing.

Seniors Living Alone

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

200020152016201720182019
Lackawanna13,52911,50311,95813,62012,50411,953
Luzerne20,84618,35219,51218,60519,13019,260
Pennsylvania555,37488,49581,884642,359650,681660,578