Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Community News Network

April 11, 2013

Johnstown Penn. among nation's fastest shrinking cities

Danville Ill. and Joplin Mo. also make the list

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown’s population is dropping at a faster pace than almost any other metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

According to figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the MSA, which encompasses all of Cambria County, suffered an estimated  seven-tenths of a percent population drop – 142,624 people to 141,584 – during a 12-month period that ended on July 1, 2012. The loss was tied for fifth-sharpest, among the nation’s 381 areas, with East Stroudsburg and Binghamton, N.Y.

The four cities on the fastest decline were Pine Bluff, Ark. (-1.5 percent), Joplin, Mo. (-1.3), Flint, Mich. (-0.9) and Danville, Ill. (-0.8).

“It’s never good to be on a list like that,” said Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce President Robert Layo.

Population loss is nothing new for the region.

Approximately 190,000 people lived in Cambria County when the 1977 flood hit and played a major role in creating a poor economic climate and mass population exodus. From the 1920s through the 1950s, when the domestic steel manufacturing industry was booming, more than 60,000 people lived in Johnstown. And, in actuality, a seven-tenths decline is small compared with some decades in which drops of 10 percent-plus occurred.

“I don’t think it’s something that happened in the past year or past two years,” said Cambria County Commissioner Thomas Chernisky. “It was something that happened the last 20, 25 years. ... As long as it took to decline, it may take that long to recover.”

Losing population negatively impacts communities that need to fund projects, including infrastructure, with a shrinking tax base.

Johnstown adopted a $31.4 million budget this year with no tax increase.

More than $8 million was set aside for sewer work, as the city has undertaken a major project to upgrade its aging system.

“Basically, we have to buy what we can afford. ... We’ve got to live within our means,” said city Councilman Frank Janakovic.

Government legacy costs also are impacted by population declines. Currently, the city is paying pension benefits to 252 retirees, while only

139 active employees are contributing to the fund. The pension program is only 49 percent funded. It would need a $20 million injection to make it sound for 30 years.

“Of course that’s a burden, your pension obligation,” said Johnstown Mayor Tom Trigona. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”

Public officials, organization leaders and citizens have tried to stop the decline by promoting the area’s low cost of living, small-town atmosphere and outdoors activities, along with quality-of-life events, such as Thunder in the Valley, All American Amateur Baseball Association National Tournament, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra concerts and Flood City Music Festival.

“There are a ton of reasons why to pick the city of Johnstown to live in,” said Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors President Ginger Jakubowski.

Even with the population plunge, Johns-town still features the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Point Stadium, CamTran bus terminal, Peoples Natural Gas Park and almost a dozen restaurants within a few blocks of City Hall. “If you look at that, we still have a pretty vibrant downtown,” said Trigona.

Promoting job growth is another part of trying to stop the population drain.

The city’s unemployment rate has remained above 10 percent for much of the past four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Johnstown and Cambria County have lower median household incomes and higher poverty rates than Pennsylvania as a whole.

Janakovic, executive director of Alternative Community Resource Program, feels part of the problem can be addressed by having school districts tailor education programs to jobs in the area, like medical training to work at Conemaugh Health System and skills for blue-collar positions at places such as JWF Industries. “My suggestion is that we first look at the education system and gear the education to where we need it in the future,” Janakovic said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

Business Marquee

e-Edition
  • How You Want It When You Want It Today's Pauls Valley Democrat

    Now you can view and download the Democrat right to your desktop on the day the paper is published. Click here to get more information on the Democrat's e-Edition.

     

    CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE E-EDITION SITE

     

    ATTENTION CURRENT DEMOCRAT SUBSCRIBERS TO START an e-EDITION

    e-mail request to sjohnson@pvdemocrat.com

    April 20, 2011 1 Photo 1 Link

AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks
Facebook