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January 28, 2015
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River valley counties by the number

Recently we at The River Reporter were curious to compare three of our local counties in the Upper Delaware River Valley to see how they stack up against each other for demographics, housing and income, and so we took another look at the results of the 2010 U.S. census and some of the interim estimates (through 2012) of how we’re doing.

Here are some of the statistics we found to be interesting:
Pike, PA Wayne, PA Sullivan, NY
(576sq/mi) (763sq/mi) (997sq/mi)
56,899 51,955 76,793
Population loss from 4/1/10 to 7/1/12
-0.8% -1.6% -1.0%
Persons under 18 in 2012
21.1% 18.3% 21.9%
Persons 65 and older in 2012
18.6% 19.4% 15.8%
Households with children under 18
30.9% 25.0% 28.0%
Two-parent household with children under 18
21% 18% 18%
Single female household with children under 18
7% 4.4% 7%
Population in the labor force, 5-year estimate, 2008 through 2012
59.6% 54.6% 59.9%
Persons below poverty level, 2008 to 2012
10.1% 12.1% 17.2%
Median household income, 5-year estimate, 2008 through 2012
$58,474 $50,153 $48,050
Mean household income, 5-year estimate, 2008 through 2012
$77,675 $70,371 $62,120
Retail sales in 2007
$401,092,000 $692,267,000 $815,240,000
Retail sales per capita in 2007
$6,847 $13,355 $10,670
Occupied housing units
56.9% 64.8% 60.9%
Housing units for seasonal, recreational use
14,280 9,381 14,343
Housing units, renter occupied
20% 27% 49.3%
Building permits, 2012
92 84 162

To us, the most disturbing thing about this snapshot is the poverty rate: 10% in Pike, 12% in Wayne and 17% in Sullivan. Poverty is defined as a family of four living on less than $22,314. According to the 2010 census, the number of U.S. children under 18 living in poverty was 16,401,000, or 22% of all American children.

Last week saw the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and a handful of Washington, DC’s most conservative Republicans took the occasion to present their own ideas for how to address this seemingly intractable problem. While we feel it is disingenuous to say that government anti-poverty programs do not work—just look at how successful Social Security (started in 1935 under president FDR) and Medicare (started in 1965 under LBJ) have been in lifting senior citizens out of poverty—we applaud Republicans for entering the national conversation about addressing poverty. We urge both political parties in Washington, DC to lay aside political dogma and work together to find meaningful solutions to this chronic problem that impacts millions of lives, which especially handicaps too many American children during their formative years, setting them off to compete on an uneven playing field for much of their lives.