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IRS Data: Pennsylvania keeps losing population and wealth

By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Recently released IRS data confirmed some bad news for Pennsylvania: Its residents keep leaving for greener pastures elsewhere, threatening the future of the state’s civic bonds and economic growth.

Put bluntly, Pennsylvania’s population future is bleak. While states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and the Carolinas attracted both people and wealth, Pennsylvania was 31st in population change (losing 5,000 people) and 35th in wealth (losing $1.2 billion in adjusted gross income) from 2019 to 2020, according to an analysis by Wirepoints.

The low expectations of nearby states may be keeping Pennsylvania relatively competitive. Aside from Delaware, which had a strong growth of people and wealth, Pennsylvania’s border states all did about the same or worse. The IRS data is based on tax returns, which allows it to track both migration and wealth.

Pennsylvania’s population loss is becoming a new normal, which can cause long-term problems.

“The problem with chronic outflows, like in the case of New York, is that one year’s losses don’t only affect the tax base the year they leave, but they also hurt all subsequent years,” Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner wrote for Wirepoints. “The losses pile up on top of each other, year after year.”

Those losses have created tricky problems across the state. 

The Center Square has previously reported on related issues such as the teacher shortage, staffing problems for emergency medical services, PennDOT’s bridge tolling plan to make up for lost revenue, and crime and public safety. A weaker economy means more people move out of state to find work, leaving a smaller tax base to fund public services.

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  • Transitions from one situation to another are often painful but in the long term may be the same or better. I think changes in population are like this. Normalize the factors mentioned for population and over time things will balance out. Depending on your values a lower population can also translate into a higher overall quality of life, less crowding at state parks firing the summer as an example. In short, the transition might hurt but the long term might not be so bad.

  • The other states are getting our residents because they care and help residents with a one time check or on going checks at this time and with this economy where PA has funds to help the residents but won’t even approve the one time check Gov Wolf wants them too. If I could afford to move I would to

    • So agree ….nothing but tax increase after tax increase and you have to ask yourself when you look around your communities – where is the money going? I like you, would move if I could!!! Then you add in the surging costs of food, utilities, etc. and realized your wages are not keeping pace – I truly think many people are at their breaking point and are figuring out an escape plan! My sister recently moved to Alabama near the ocean and I cry when she tells me about the high taxes she no longer pays! Something has got to give!!!!

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