Inside This Issue:
- Rural Pennsylvania's Foreign-Born Workforce
- Chairman's Message
- Research Examines Oral Health Care Delivery for Low-Income Children in Pennsylvania
- Rural Snapshot: Top 3 Farm Commodity Groups, by County, 2017
- Enrollment Projections in Rural Pennsylvania School Districts
- Just the Facts: Crimes and Arrests
Rural Pennsylvania's Foreign-Born Workforce
In Pennsylvania, 3.5 percent of the rural workforce and 10.7 percent of the urban workforce was foreign-born in 2016. These percentages are a notable increase since 2000, when the foreign-born made up 2 percent and 6.3 percent of the workforce in rural and urban Pennsylvania, respectively. As individuals born outside of the U.S. represent a growing share of Pennsylvania’s population and workforce, and represent an important and growing set of workers, business owners, taxpayers, and voters, it is important to learn more about their economic contributions and social well-being.
To develop a descriptive profile of the socioeconomic characteristics of the foreign-born workforce in rural Pennsylvania, Dr. Brian Thiede, Dr. Leif Jensen, and Katrina Alford of Pennsylvania State University analyzed records from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to compare the foreign-born and native-born workforce in rural and urban Pennsylvania.
Specifically, the research produced estimates of the foreign-born share of rural Pennsylvania’s workforce (defined as individuals aged 16-64 years) overall and across different regions within the state, described their social and economic characteristics, identified their levels and sources of income, and tracked changes in these outcomes over time.
The research found that the foreign-born share of the rural workforce exceeded 6 percent in only three of the 23 rural Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs)€”which are sub-state geographic units containing 100,000 or more people€” in 2016. In only three others did the foreign-born share of the rural workforce fall between 4 and 6 percent.
Foreign-born members of the rural workforce are split with respect to educational attainment. More than 30 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 20 percent did not complete high school. Also, a disproportionate share, or more than one in five, live in families with incomes below poverty.
The research found shifts in the socioeconomic profile of the rural foreign-born workforce population since 2000, which suggest growing disadvantages and challenges to socioeconomic integration, with declining levels of educational attainment and English language skills, and increasing rates of poverty.
The research found that foreign-born workers are distributed unevenly across industries. In rural Pennsylvania, more than 20 percent of foreign-born workers are employed in professional and related services, and more than 10 percent are employed in retail trade and manufacturing.
Rural foreign-born workers also were more likely than native-born workers to have jobs in the personal services, transportation, and agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries.
The results of the research on income sources suggest broad similarities between foreign- and native-born Pennsylvanians living in rural and urban areas. The differences that emerged are complex and do not align neatly with any particular narrative of U.S. immigration, whether positive or negative.
The research offers a number of potential focus areas for policymakers. These include renewed efforts to improve and make accessible English language training and adult learning/training opportunities, as well as attention to programs to reduce poverty. The diverse socioeconomic circumstances among the rural foreign-born also underscore the challenges to developing widely applicable policies.
The full report, Economic Implications of Pennsylvania’s Foreign-Born Population, is here.
2019 is quickly coming to a close, and as I look back over this past year, I am once again encouraged by the impressive work of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Like years past, the Center continues to support and publish research that contributes solid data and important policy considerations on a wide range of topics that are important to rural Pennsylvania.
This past year, the Center released notable research on the availability and access to broadband internet service across Pennsylvania, the economic benefits of our state forest system, the availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, the incidence of youth obesity in Pennsylvania, and a review of legislation and regulations to control invasive species in Pennsylvania. This month, we released two additional research reports on the foreign-born workforce in Pennsylvania, and the status of oral health care for low-income children, which are featured on Pages 1 and 3, respectively. Each of these research projects and resulting reports provide important information that affects our economy, health, and social well-being.
We plan to continue that work in 2020. The Center’s Board of Directors will be meeting in Williamsport, Pa., in December to review research grant proposals, and we look forward to sharing the news about our 2020 grant recipients with you in January.
You can also count on our continued analyses and presentation of data that is important to rural Pennsylvania, and our state as a whole. A sample of some of the interesting information that we keep tabs on is on Pages 4 and 5, the top farm commodity groups by county. As you can see from the map, agriculture is an important industry in all of our 67 counties.
And speaking of counting, 2020 will be an important year for Pennsylvania and our nation as a whole, because of the 2020 Census. Throughout this past year, Center staff has been reminding residents of the importance of the Census in its many presentations to various groups across the state. You’ve probably noticed the Census-related articles in this newsletter over the past year as well. We want to continue reminding all residents of the importance of the Census, which is a Constitutional requirement. The distribution of many public and private sector resources is based on Census data, and our voice in Washington is based on our population count. According to the Census, in March 2020, the majority of people will get a letter with information on taking the survey online, while some people may still receive the paper survey. No matter which version you receive, please complete the form. Let’s all do our part to be counted.
Senator Gene Yaw
Research Examines Oral Health Care Delivery for Low-Income Children in Pennsylvania
Cavities continue to be the most common chronic disease in children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016). CDC data indicate that income level is a significant factor in determining a child’s risk for developing cavities; specifically, the lower the household income, the higher the rate of untreated cavities.
To find out more about the oral health care delivery system for low-income children in Pennsylvania, researchers from Pennsylvania State University analyzed a variety of oral health care programs and services in Pennsylvania, focusing on the differences between rural and urban areas.
Researchers Lisa Davis, Kelly Braun, and Myron R. Schwartz used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pennsylvania Departments of Human Services and Health, and the American Dental Association to examine the oral health component of the Medical Assistance (MA) program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the school oral health program. They also reviewed the supply and geographic distribution of dentists in Pennsylvania.
Here’s a short summary of what they found:
- The overall supply of dentists in Pennsylvania is sufficient to meet current demand.
- Geographic access to dentists is not equal as the urban dentist supply rates are nearly twice that of rural rates.
- Dental supply access inequalities exist between higher and lower income areas.
- The MA program is the largest insurer of children in Pennsylvania. About one in three children and the majority of low-income children are enrolled in MA. The MA program has generous dental benefits for children.
- Dental care use has been increasing over the past decade for all children.
- Children insured by MA have lower annual use rates than those insured by commercial insurance plans (privately insured), but this difference has been decreasing in recent years.
- In 2017, among the 53.5 percent of enrollees who had a dentist visit, 89 percent had at least one preventive/diagnostic visit.
- About 6 percent of all children age 18 or younger are enrolled in CHIP.
- CHIP and MA dental coverage is comprehensive.
- Among other programs for low-income children, the Community Health Center (CHC) program is the most important. CHCs are comprehensive health clinics that receive a federal grant to partially cover costs and receive favorable federal and state reimbursement for the services they provide. They are designed to serve the Medicaid, low-income, and uninsured populations. There are 264 CHC clinical sites in Pennsylvania; 84 percent of which have on-site dental services and the remainder have a contract with an outside dentist. Thirteen percent of CHC patients were uninsured and 51 percent were insured by MA in 2016.
- While not required to offer oral health services, many Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) have started to integrate oral health and coordinate care for their patients. RHCs were federally authorized in 1977 to address physician shortages for patients with Medicare in rural areas through the use of non-physician providers. RHCs are paid an all-inclusive rate for preventive and primary care services.
- A variety of other programs offer dental service to the low-income population including Head Start, Sealant Saturday, and free clinics.
- The oral health component of the school health program mandates examinations or screenings for children entering school and in Grades 3 and 7. School districts can choose to participate in the Mandated Dental Program (MDP) or the Dental Hygiene Services Program. Most districts have chosen the MDP.
- There is evidence that the vast majority of students in mandated grades are being examined or screened.
- Students in rural districts more frequently receive their dental screening or examination at school.
- Fluoride programs are more frequently offered in rural school districts.
- The school health program is an important gateway to oral health care, as there is no other program that is open to almost all children in Pennsylvania, regardless of socio-economic status, geographic location, or health status.
The full report, Oral Health Status of Low-Income Children in Pennsylvania: A Rural-Urban Comparison, is here.
Rural Snapshot: Top 3 Farm Commodity Groups, by County, 2017
The top three commodity groups are those with the highest reported value of sales, and include only commodities with reported values. In some counties, commodities were not reported due to confidentiality rules. The dollar figures represent each county’s total value of sales of agricultural products.
Total value of sales in Pennsylvania, 2017 = $7,758,884,000
Top three commodity groups in Pennsylvania: Milk from cows @ $1.98 billion; Poultry and eggs @ $1.68 billion; and Nursey/Greenhouse @ $1.02 billion.
Note: Hay = other field crops including hay; Milk = milk from cows; Vegetables = vegetables, melons, potatoes, etc.; Horses = horses, ponies, mules, etc.; Other Animals = other animals and animal products; Christmas Trees = cultivated Christmas trees, and short woody crops; and Nursery/Greenhouse = nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, sod, mushrooms, vegetable seeds, and propagative materials. Data source: 2017 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Enrollment Projections in Rural Pennsylvania School Districts
In the fall of 2008, elementary school teachers in rural public school districts welcomed more than 30,900 students to the first grade. More than a decade later, in 2018, these teachers greeted nearly 3,600 fewer first grade students. And, according to enrollment projections by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in 2028, teachers will be saying good morning to almost 1,300 fewer first graders.
This decline in first grade students is part of an overall enrollment decline in Pennsylvania rural school districts. From the 2008-09 school year to the 2018-19 school year, rural school districts saw a 13 percent drop in enrollment. During this same period, urban school districts witnessed a 6 percent decline.
Looking to the future, enrollment declines are projected to continue. From the 2018-19 school year to the 2028-29 school year, rural districts are projected to see an 8 percent enrollment decline and urban districts are projected to see a 2 percent decline.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s enrollment projections are based on the school retention model. This model includes factors such as students progressing from one grade to the next and birth rates. Details on this model can be found on the department’s website.
Looking more closely at current and projected enrollment data, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found the following:
- Increase in smaller school districts: In the 2008-09 school year, 56 rural school districts had fewer than 1,000 students. In the 2018-19 school year, there were 77 districts with fewer than 1,000 students. According to the projections, in the 2028-29 school year, there will be 95 rural school districts with enrollments under 1,000 students.
- Widespread enrollment decline: From school years 2018-19 to 2028-29, four out of every five rural school districts will have either no change or a decrease in student enrollment. As the map below indicates, this decline is widespread throughout the state.
- Slowing rate of decline: As mentioned earlier, from the 2008-09 to the 2018-19 school year, rural school districts had a 13 percent decline; from 2018-19 to 2028-29, the overall decline will be 8 percent.
- Greater decline among less affluent rural school districts: Rural school districts that are projected to have a 10 percent or more enrollment decline from 2018-19 to 2028-29 have lower housing values, lower household incomes, and higher poverty rates than rural school districts that are projected to have enrollment increases.
Projected Enrollment Changes in PA School Districts, 2019-2029
Data source: Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Just the Facts: Crimes and Arrests
The number of crimes and arrests in both rural and urban Pennsylvania counties decreased from 2013 to 2017, according to Uniform Crime Reports from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Reported crimes and arrests are divided into Part 1 and Part 2 offenses. Part 1 offenses include serious crimes, such as criminal homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Part 2 offenses consist of other assaults, forgery, fraud, drug crimes, and sex crimes.
From 2013 to 2017, Part 1 reported crimes decreased 18 percent across Pennsylvania: in rural counties, Part 1 reported crimes decreased 23 percent, and in urban counties, they decreased 17 percent.
Part 1 arrests decreased 18 percent across Pennsylvania: 17 percent in rural counties, and 19 percent in urban counties.
Part 1 reported violent crimes decreased at a higher rate in urban counties than in rural counties (7 percent and 3 percent, respectively). Violent crimes, which include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, decreased in 34 counties, 25 of which are rural.
Part 2 reported crimes and arrests both declined statewide from 2013 to 2017, according to the Pennsylvania State Police data. While all Part 2 reported crimes and arrests decreased 4 percent and 11 percent, respectively, drug-related reported crimes and arrests increased 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Drug-related crimes and arrests are occurring in rural counties at almost eight times the rate of urban counties. Reported drug-related crimes include all violations related to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growth, manufacture, and making of narcotic drugs.
From 2013 to 2017, reported drug-related crimes doubled in eight counties, all of which are rural.