WAYNE COUNTY—During the annual Planning Commission Report, given at the March 1 Wayne County Board of Commissioners meeting, Planning Director Craig Rickard noted two-thirds of Pennsylvania's 67 counties are witnessing a decline in population.
Wayne County specifically is looking at an anticipated loss of nearly three people per square mile as compared to the 2010 Census data.
Total county population in 2010 was 52,822. The Planning Commission's estimate for 2016 showed a four percent loss of over 2,000 citizens, leaving a total of 50,710 people in the county.
“Every municipality is estimated to be losing population except for Canaan, and I believe that is...their fluctuating prison population,” said Rickard.
Canaan Township is anticipated to have had a net gain of 24 individuals in 2016.
This is a 0.6 percent increase.
Three municipalities – Honesdale Borough, Hawley Borough and Texas Township – are estimated to have lost six percent or more of their populations since 2010.
Honesdale alone is estimated to have lost nearly 300 people since 2010.
The average population change of municipalities in the county is a loss of 4.17 percent.
To represent the data a different way, Rickard noted the Planning Commission broke the county into northern, central and southern regions, each containing about one third of the county's landmass.
“This came up at one of our Planning Commission meetings, based on a PennDOT project I was working on. It's similar to our Comp. Plan.
“Breaking it down, the county is 60 miles north to south, let's look at it by a region standpoint.”
The northern region – consisting of Starrucca Borough and Buckingham, Damascus, Lebanon, Manchester, Mt Pleasant, Preston, Scott townships – represented only 14.4 percent of the county population change, losing itself only 3.4 percent of its population.
This region's population is only 16.7 percent of the whole county.
The central region – containing Bethany, Hawley, Honesdale, Prompton and Waymart Boroughs as well as Berlin, Canaan, Cherry Ridge, Clinton, Dyberry, Oregon, Palmyra, South Canaan and Texas townships – holds 49 percent of the county's population and is the source of 49.3 percent of the total population change.
The region itself noted a population loss of four percent.
The southern region – containing Dreher, Lake, Lehigh, Paupack, Salem and Sterling townships – had the greatest individual loss in population, dropping 4.2 percent.
It represents 34.3 percent of the county's total population and holds 36.3 percent of its population change.
On a state scale
Looking at numbers across the whole state, Wayne County sits slightly above the median in terms of the 44 counties whose populations have decreased.
The entire state population increased by 1.76 people per square mile.
The largest increase was in Philadelphia's population, growing by over 300 people per square mile.
Other prominent increases in population density occurred in Montgomery, Lehigh, Delaware, Cumberland, Lancaster, Chester, Lebanon and Northampton counties, each growing by more than 12 people per square mile.