Where’s everyone going? Anywhere but here, apparently.
Almost no Pennsylvania county suffered a population drop as big as Schuylkill County in the last 8 years.
Over the last 8 years, Schuylkill County’s population dropped by 6,224 people. That’s according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and sorted by The Pennsylvania State Data Center.
That rate of population decline in Schuylkill County is the 4th most among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. The only other Pennsylvania counties with population dips bigger than ours since 2010 are Westmoreland (14,583 people), Cambria (11,951), and Erie (8,523).
The Census Bureau estimates Schuylkill County’s population in 2018 at 142,067. Schuylkill County is the 24th most populous in Pennsylvania.
2018 Schuylkill County Population
Coal Region Canary requested extra population information from The Pennsylvania State Data Center. Here’s what it provided on data exclusive to Schuylkill County.
The sheer volume of people not in the area is alarming. And it’s a steady drop since 2010. Remember, only 3 other counties saw bigger drops in the amount of people living in it since 2010.
Here’s a look at Schuylkill County’s population from 2010 through 2018:
The population loss represents a 4.2% drop over the last 8 years. That percentage decline is 20th highest in Pennsylvania over that time.
A silver lining here may be that the population isn’t declining as fast as others. And between 2017 and 2018, Schuylkill County’s population drop was below its average annual decline since 2010.
Since 2010, Schuylkill County dropped by 778 people per year, on average. However, between 2017 and 2018, only 599 left.
Now, that’s still a pretty steep drop. It’s the 12th biggest population drop in Pennsylvania over the year, ending July 1, 2018. But we’re searching for silver linings here, remember?
Schuylkill County Natural Losses
Plain and simple, we’re dying faster than we’re being born.
Natural losses count as the amount of births against the number of deaths. If a county has more births than deaths, it’s considered a natural increase. That’s not us.
Schuylkill County, between 2010 and 2018, suffered an overall natural loss. Nearly 5,000 more people died in Schuylkill County than were born since 2010.
In fact, our 4,936 natural loss is the third most in the state. Only Westmoreland County (-11,212) and Luzerne County (-6,868) had that many more deaths than births.
Schuylkill County Migration
The Census calculates an area’s migration by adding the number of people moving to the area (467 in our case) to the people who’ve left in the last 8 years. That’s 2,215 people leaving Schuylkill County in that time.
So, overall, the county’s “Net Migration” is a negative: -1,748.
Essentially, people leave and don’t come back. At least not too often and not recently.
Pennsylvania Population Modestly Rises
The bad (worse?) news is that Schuylkill County’s declines actually come at times when Pennsylvania’s population increased, ever so slightly.
Between 2010 and 2018, the state’s population rose 0.8%. And it went up one-tenth of a percent from 2017-2018.
According to figures from The Pennsylvania State Data Center, the fastest growing counties since 2010 are Cumberland, Lebanon, Centre, Lehigh, and Lancaster.
April 26, 2019 at 6:49 am
Hmmm, is everyone sliding down the mountain, and into Lebanon Co.?
“Lebanon County has the distinction of being the fastest growing county from 2017-2018 according to research conducted by the Pennsylvania State Data Center.
The county saw a population increase of 1.3% over the course of the last year, which is the largest increase of any county.
Lebanon is also the second-fastest growing county since 2010, with an increase of 5.8%, a numeric increase of 7,737 people, just behind Cumberland county which tops the list with an increase of 6.8%.”
April 26, 2019 at 10:04 am
The more important aspect to look at is, who is leaving and who is staying? I am looking at it in Economic terms. We know that we are experiencing a serious “brain drain” educated leaving, welfare staying. I would like a more detailed (which will come out in 2020 Census) accounting of College Graduates compared to 2010 who are in County.
This is important for future Businesses moving into this county. Employers are looking for the “educated” workforce, which Skook is sorely lacking.
April 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm
It’s true, but it’s also easier for people to move into an area. Businesses need proper infrastructure and we offer almost none of that. Our towns are a mess and largely inaccessible. Businesses want low startup costs (don’t get that in a rotting historic building, not that there’s anything wrong with historic buildings) and access to the things that make them successful — good roads, fast internet, etc. If you build it, they will come.
But you’re right, we know first-hand that the smartest ones typically leave.
May 28, 2022 at 2:36 am
Schuylkill county is just horrible all of the restaurants are of low quality and overpriced even the fast food in the area the people cannot make correctly and do not clean the equipment properly. The people are very ignorant when driving many will beep at you or cuss you out and pass you even when driving speed limit, they are in a rush to go nowhere. The housing has many realtors and investors who buy all the property than rent for outrageous price this will eventually cause a housing crash in the area. I have been many places in the country, and this is the worst all around. It has some nice scenery but the people in this area are the problem. There is also racism had a moving company help with my move and some of the workers had not been white and had people driving by yelling the N-word it is just horrible disrespectful ignorant people in this area with no morals or manners.
April 26, 2019 at 11:40 am
I hear what you are saying. But let me say, college is not only “where it is at”. We have a massive shortage of, and an increasing huge demand for, trades persons. Look at what the guys are making working on our power grid. Ask a HVAC tech what they are making. Truck technicians (huge shortage). The guys working along the roads, various shifts of the day.
All those jobs, you do need to pass the pee test.
I also wonder “what” or “who” is moving into Lebanon Co Unfortunately, our slide began way back in the 80’s. When we lost the steel mills. Unlike other areas that also had steel mills, Lebanon has not yet bounced back.
Right now our growth seems to be warehouse or chicken plant work. But then I hear a vast number of those working in the chicken plant are living in Berks Co. Go figure. South Lebanon is growing, because they can hop on the turnpike and head to very well paying jobs in Lancaster and the outskirts of Philly. For now the property tax rate in Lebanon Co is low, and out on the northeast corner, very low.
April 26, 2019 at 12:44 pm
Fantastic commentary! Sad to see what’s happened. Could you ever imagine this area in NEED of these professionals? Makes you wonder what’s happening to those of us who are still here.
Pottsville’s backbone was built by the blue-collar workers and entrepreneurs. People always point to coal/steel leaving as the reason for Pottsville’s demise. Remember, into the 1980s, we still employed thousands in the textile mills. It wasn’t great further into the 80s but then NAFTA basically destroyed what was left.
The area needs good bones, too. Schools need to work better at preparing kids for work. We all can’t be coders and gamers.
July 25, 2019 at 10:29 pm
The newer generations and myself are more tech oriented. We Favor Office jobs. The skook only offers miserable hard labor in warehousing and other redundant physical employment. Until we see the glass towers of office spaces with the likes of Merryl Lynch or Goldman Sachs we smarty book people will keep moving away.
May 31, 2019 at 7:56 am
We need leadership not big fish in a small pond. Time for change vote them all out.
Such is lyfe
June 15, 2020 at 9:13 pm
It also doesn’t help the horrible racism I hear that’s in The Skook. The workforce is the most it’s ever been in the history of our country. And minorities aren’t interested in moving into a seemingly ass backwards county.
June 15, 2020 at 11:25 pm
What you hear and what is the majority can be and likely are two different things. That’s the point of the article. No one talks about how people aren’t racist. They only hear and amplify the people that are racist. We didn’t say it didn’t exist. It’s just not as prevalent as you or they perceive.
June 16, 2020 at 7:27 am
“Thousands of new residents are moving to Florida from counties in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Illinois, California, and Georgia — among the states with the highest income tax rates in the country.”
…sadly, our area has declined in so many ways over the last few decades, while others have flourished and growth exponentially.
September 8, 2020 at 10:31 am
It is a real shame. After growing up in the county, I was one of those who went to college, got a degree in engineering and promptly moved out of the area. Not because I wanted to per se, but because the jobs just wernt there. From visiting the area recently, it was sad to see how the area has gone further downhill. From what I can see there are 2 big factors: 1. The long decline of the manufacturing sectors, much of it due to imports (textiles, shoes, Aluminum, etc), and 2: A general decline of the demographic. The demographic decline due to aging of the population, few people moving in, drug use, degradation of strong family values, and everything that goes along with that. Some of this caused by #1, while some self inflicted. It is a vicious circle; All creating fewer reasons for people wanting to stay or move in. At least America is finally questioning if all the free trade agreements really are free and fair, but I fear that the future of SKOOK just gets worse.