pennsylvania population decline

Pa.’s Troubling and Continued Population Decline

December 22, 2022, Harrisburg, Pa. — Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Pennsylvania lost over 40,000 residents between July 2021 and July 2022.

These population estimates show that Pennsylvania had the fourth-largest total population decline in the country. Additionally, the state has the eighth-largest population loss from domestic migration, losing just shy of 40,000 residents in net migration to other states.

This data continues a troubling trend. The Keystone State lost residents to other states in all but one year since 2010. The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) projected, in October 2021, that the state will lose 250,000 working-age adults during the five-year period, 2020 to 2025.

“This brain drain remains one of the greatest challenges facing Pennsylvania,” said Nathan Benefield, senior vice president at the Commonwealth Foundation. “Combined with an aging population and working-age individuals leaving the labor force, these trends offer a dismal outlook for our state’s economy and fiscal situation.”

The Census data shows how Pennsylvania can begin reversing course. States such as Florida, Texas, and North Carolina saw significant increases in population from domestic migration. This is no fluke. Research shows that Americans move from high-tax states to low-tax states. Furthermore, all three states ranked in the top ten for fiscal stability.

As part of its Better Pennsylvania 2023 plan, the Commonwealth Foundation outlined a blueprint to unleash prosperity, including controlling the growth of government spending through the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA), reducing taxes on businesses and job creators, regulatory reform to eliminate red tape, and unleashing Pennsylvania energy potential. These reforms all have strong bipartisan support.

“Governor-elect Shapiro and the new legislature should act swiftly to adopt these policy reforms and spur economic growth,” Benefield added. “While Pennsylvania’s economic performance has been bleak, our commonwealth sits on the precipice of a great opportunity to change course, revitalize our economy, and become a destination state for families and businesses.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Stefanie Mason [email protected] or 414-418-5132 to schedule an interview.  


The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.