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State of the Economy: Fayette County

The population of Fayette County, like many counties in western Pennsylvania, decreased between 2010 and 2018. Data from the US Census Bureau indicates that the population decreased by about 5 percent from 136,606 residents in 2010 to 130,441 residents in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. This trend is expected to continue and will be reported in the 2020 census.

Compared to Pennsylvania overall, Fayette County has a slightly older population. Families in Fayette County earn less than the typical family in the Commonwealth. In 2018, the median household income for Fayette County was $41,632 compared to $56,951 for the Commonwealth. Approximately 1 in 5 individuals in Fayette County fall below the poverty line.

In December 2019, 7 percent of the population of Fayette County was unemployed compared to the unemployment rate of 4.5 percent at the state level. However, wages in the oil and gas sector were significantly higher. In 2018, there were 855 employees engaged in oil and natural gas support activities in Fayette County. The average earnings for those workers in 2018 was $82,197. Wages in that sector increased by 15 percent from 2016 to 2018. It is unclear if those trends will be sustained in 2019 and 2020.

Given the wage gap between those engaged in oil and natural gas support activities and other workers in the County, residents and public officials should monitor the industry closely.

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