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May 27, 2024 11:45 am

Local News

Report: Child Population Declines in Pennsylvania

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Danielle Smith

The population is made up of fewer children – in Pennsylvania and across the United States, according to the latest analysis of census data.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report said Pennsylvania is one of six states that appears to have lost more than 100,000 children between 2010 and 2020. This shrinks the state’s child population by 4%.

Study co-author Bill O’Hare, a demographer for the Casey Foundation, said children made up 22% of the U.S. population in 2020, and it’s gone down even more steeply since then. In future years, O’Hare said, this could mean implications for the labor force.

“Entry-level workers are going to be going down, they haven’t gone down much since, but they will be over the next 10 years, as older children are replaced by smaller birth cohorts,” he said. “As the number of entry-level workers go down, it’s going to be harder for employers to find the kind of people they need for jobs.”

He added that it’s important to make sure every child gets the kind of education, training and opportunities for the types of jobs employers are looking to fill. The 2020 Census counted more than 73 million children nationwide, but that’s 1.1 million fewer kids than in the 2010 Census.

O’Hare noted that data show the number of non-Hispanic white children has decreased since 2010, while the populations of children of color has increased. He said that could signal a need for greater investment in these demographic groups that, historically, have faced some educational challenges.

“Particularly Hispanics and Asians and children of two or more races, those groups have been increasing,” he said, “and those groups in the past have not always done as well, education-wise as the majority populations.”

O’Hare added that with fewer children being born, more money could be spent on each child’s education – although fewer kids could signal less support for schools. He pointed out that as the numbers of households and adult voters without children increase, they may be less supportive of public education.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story was written by Danielle Smith, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.