2020 Census Data Reveals More Diverse Lancaster County | Local News
Lancaster County’s 6.5% growth over the past 10 years is entirely due to non-white populations, a trend that appears to have been spurred in part by Puerto Rican migration after Hurricane Maria hit the island.
All non-white racial and ethnic groups increased, but none more than people of Hispanic or Latino origin. This cohort has grown by 36.1% over the past decade and in 2020 represented 11.1% of the county’s total population, up from 8.6% in 2010.
The population of people who identified as only black or African American increased by 17.6%, while Asians increased by 43.5%. The number of people who have won two or more races has more than tripled since 2010.
Census data released Thursday showed people identifying as only white fell 1.6%. They now represent 81.9% of the population, compared to 88.6% in 2010 and 91.5% in 2000.
Sandra Valdez, chief operating officer of the Hispanic American Civic Association in Lancaster, said she saw Thursday’s release of Hispanic/Latino population data as a clear link to migration that has taken place due to Hurricane María, which devastated the island in September 2017.
“I know a lot of families in Lancaster County and throughout Pennsylvania who have family in Puerto Rico who were trying to find their safety by moving to the United States and that’s definitely due to the Hurricane Maria and its aftermath,” Valdez said.
Valdez also said that due to the large population increase in the Hispanic/Latino community, resources need to be put in place.
“As SACA continues to serve not only Puerto Rican individuals migrating to this region, but also individuals migrating from all different countries to our city and county, we have seen an influx of social service needs and especially language barriers,” Valdez said. .
“We need more individuals in the community to be able to help these families not just among Puerto Ricans but across.”
Despite the county’s increased diversity, local civic leaders who focus on minority communities say it’s unclear if the levers of power have changed with it.
Whether disparities in housing, education and civil rights improve locally depends on how residents react, they said.
John Maina, managing director of the Central Pennsylvania Equity Project, said disparities in these areas are still pronounced and need more attention.
“What we’re seeing is our population in the non-white categories is growing,” Maina said. “Our other stakeholders are growing and our equity should be growing as well.”
The US Census Bureau releases data that shows the demographic transformation that has taken place in the country every 10 years. Held back by the COVID-19 pandemic, data released Thursday was delayed by more than four months.
Census data showed Lancaster to be the seventh fastest growing of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
Maina said he was not surprised by the population numbers, but they speak to the strength the community could have within them to bring about institutional change.
“As Freddy Hampton said, ‘Where there are people, there is power,'” Maina said, referring to the late president of the former Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. “We have the numbers. It just depends on when we want to start writing our own stories as people and not our representatives.
Kevin Ressler, president and CEO of United Way of Lancaster, said the county’s growing non-white population is a good thing “because diverse communities bring diverse solutions to long-standing common issues.” … A diverse community is always stronger than a monolithic community.
With Pennsylvania’s population increasing and losing a seat in Congress, Ressler also said, it’s important that we continue to ensure that every citizen of Lancaster County is registered to vote so they can exercise its influence and be answered by the chosen one.
Ressler said the census results should be an opportunity to reevaluate whether the diversity of data is fairly reflected in the community.
“We have to ask the question, are county employees and people in leadership positions in the government office, the county, the city, representing what the community is actually showing? The same goes for the nonprofit sector, when we look at the boards of organizations, are they representative of the community they serve? Ressler said.