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State of the Economy: Westmoreland County

As part of our State of the County Economy Series, the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub will feature data and information from the counties of southwest Pennsylvania each week. This week, data from Westmoreland County is presented.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, Westmoreland County lost 10,418 residents or 3.0 percent of its population between 2010 and 2018 (the most recent year data was available). With the 2020 census approaching, trends suggest that additional population loss may have occurred over the past two years.

The median age of the Westmoreland County resident is 46.8, which is higher than the state median age of 40.7. The percentage of residents with a high school degree or higher is 94.0 percent, comfortably above the state rate.

In Westmoreland County, the median household income is $58,866, about 3.3 percent higher than the state median household income of $56,951. The poverty rate is 10 percent in the county, lower than the poverty rate of 13.1 percent in Pennsylvania overall.

Like median household income, those engaged in unconventional oil and natural gas development earn much more Westmoreland County than in other parts of Pennsylvania, According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages in major oil and gas services has grown by about 6 percent over the past several years. Workers in the shale gas industry earned $97,686 per year on average in 2016 before jumping to $103,818 in 2018.

While wages for those in the industry are high, uncertainty around the response to the pandemic, especially with reopening the state, has the industry slowing down to analyze and try to forecast the state of the industry post-COVID.

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