Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg’s population ticks up, with larger increases in suburban counties

The Harrisburg skyline

For the second straight decennial census, Harrisburg’s population showed a small gain, cracking the 50,000-person mark for the first time since the 1990s.

According to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Harrisburg city now has a total population of 50,099, up 1.1% from 49,528 recorded in the 2010 census.

The new count also exceeded the 2019 Census Bureau estimate, which predicted a slight decline in the city’s population.

Harrisburg’s population peaked in the 1950 census at 89,544 residents. It then went into a sharp, extended decline, driven by deindustrialization, suburbanization and the devastating 1972 flood.

Harrisburg last had an official count that exceeded 50,000 residents in the 1990 census, at 52,376. The 2000 census hit a modern low point at 48,950 residents.

The city’s positive population growth was dwarfed by increases in the suburbs.

According to the new census data, Dauphin County now has 286,401 residents, compared to 268,100 a decade ago. Cumberland County grew even faster, with 259,469 people, up from 235,406 in the 2010 census. In Perry County, the population was nearly unchanged, dropping by 127 people to 45,842.

In Harrisburg, the city’s demographics were relatively stable.

There are now 20,543 households in the city, compared to 20,561 in the 2010 census.

Racially, 51.5% of residents identified as Black or African American in the 2020 census, compared to 52.4% in 2010. Whites now constitute 34.9% of the population, versus 30.7% a decade ago.  People identifying as Asian increased in number to 4.6% compared to 3.5% in 2010.

People identifying as being of Latino/Hispanic origin grew in number to 21.8% of the population, compared to 18% in 2010 in Harrisburg. This category may overlap with the above-referenced racial categories.

In Harrisburg, the median income for a household is now $39,685, compared to $26,920 in the 2010 census. The city’s poverty rate increased to 26.4% of all people, compared to 24.6% a decade ago, according to the new census data.

In Dauphin County generally, the poverty rate now stands at 11.3% and, in Cumberland County, 7.2%.

For more information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.


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