Pennsylvania Facing Mass Exodus; Residents Are Leaving These Cities


Pennsylvania is one of the states with the worst population declines in the country. Based on the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau, between July 2021 and July 2022, the state lost around 40,000 citizens to other states. Pennsylvania has been losing working-age population for years as they go abroad in search of better employment prospects and lower taxes. Which cities are most impacted by this enormous exodus, and what are the reasons and effects of it?

The Causes of Outmigration

Searching for a new job is the primary reason Pennsylvanians are leaving the state. While other states have experienced notable job growth, the state has not recovered from the payroll job losses caused by the outbreak. In terms of state and local taxes per capita, Pennsylvania ranks 10th in the country, indicating a high tax burden as well.

3.07% is the state income tax rate. This may not sound like much, but it applies to all forms of income, including capital gains, dividends, interest, wages, and retirement income. Additionally, the state’s high 9.99% corporate net income tax rate deters new and expanded business ventures.

The aging population is another issue that drives outmigration. With a median age of 40.8, Pennsylvania is the fifth-oldest population in the US. The state’s natural population increase is slowed down because there are more deaths than births.

Additionally, the state’s low fertility rate—1.64 children per woman—falls short of the 2.1 replacement level. The number of people in Pennsylvania who are approaching retirement age will force them to spend more money on social services like health care and pensions, which already consume a significant portion of state budgets.

The Consequences of Outmigration

Talent and resources are taken with Pennsylvanians when they leave the state. This leads to a brain drain that is detrimental to the state’s budget and economy. Most of the persons relocating to other states are of working age and pay taxes that support state governments.

A United Van Lines 2022 survey found that over 67% of people departing Pennsylvania were in the 18 to 64 age range. According to data from the Internal Revenue Service, Pennsylvania lost $106 billion in revenue as a result of domestic outmigration between 1992 and 2019. According to an additional research, Pennsylvania’s income dropped by $1.2 billion as a result of domestic outmigration in just the years 2019 and 2020.

The state’s influence and representation in politics are also impacted by outmigration. Because of its sluggish population growth in comparison to other states, Pennsylvania lost one electoral vote and one congressional seat during the 2020 census. States now have less influence and authority within the federal government. The state’s demographic and political makeup are also altered by outmigration because the surviving population may hold different beliefs and interests than the departing ones.

The Cities That Are Losing Residents

There is a disparity in the distribution of the mass departure from Pennsylvania. Depending on their social and economic circumstances, some cities are losing citizens at a faster rate than others. The top five cities with the biggest population declines from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are:

Philadelphia: Over the previous ten years, 26,333 people, or 1.7% of the city’s total population, have moved out of the state’s largest metropolis. At 23.3%, the city’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the 10.5% national average. The FBI lists the city as the 13th most dangerous city in the US due to its high crime rate.

Pittsburgh: In the last ten years, 12,431 people, or 3.9% of the city’s total population, have moved out of the second-largest in the state. The city has had difficulty making the shift from an industrial to a more varied economy. At $47,417, the median household income in the city is lower than the $62,843 national average. With a 3% local income tax rate on top of the 3.07% state income tax rate, the city also has a high tax burden.

Erie: Over the previous ten years, 6,447 people, or 5.8% of its total population, have left the state’s fourth-largest city. The city’s primary economic engine, manufacturing, has suffered greatly as a result of its decline. At 7.7%, the city’s unemployment rate is higher than the 5.4% national average. Additionally, the city has one of the highest rates of poverty in the state, at 26.2%.

Scranton: Over the previous ten years, 3,894 people, or 4.6% of the city’s total population, have left the sixth-largest city in the state. Due to its huge debt burden and poor credit rating, the city has been experiencing financial difficulties. At $40,073, the city’s median household income is quite low compared to the national average. In addition to the 3.07% state income tax, the city also levies a hefty 3.4% municipal income tax.

Reading: Over the last ten years, 3,883 people, or 3.4% of the city’s total population, have left the state’s fifth-largest city. At 36.4%, the city’s poverty rate is the highest in the state and the second-worst in the US, surpassed only by Detroit. With a median household income of $31,247, the city has a poor income distribution compared to the national average. The FBI lists the city as the 25th most dangerous city in the US due to its high crime rate.


Residents of Pennsylvania are leaving the state in large numbers in search of greater social and economic prospects abroad. The state loses revenue from taxes, income, and representation as a result of this trend, which has an adverse effect on the finances, politics, and economics of the state. Certain cities are more impacted than others because of their high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, and taxes. State and municipal governments must implement laws that support a low-tax environment, a competitive, diversified economy, and a balanced, fiscally prudent budget in order to buck the trend. Pennsylvania has the capacity to become a popular travel destination, but it must solve the issues that are turning visitors away.

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