Rice Township was the fastest growing municipality in Luzerne County from 2010 to 2012, ranking 78th among 5,772 incorporated municipalities statewide, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday.
Estimated township population climbed from 3,341 in 2010 to 3,484 in 2012, up 4.3 percent. That’s 10 times faster than the overall state growth of a scant 0.4 percent.
Rice Township’s growth was also the largest in the county by raw numbers, with 143 new residents. The second biggest numerical increase was Butler Township, which added 136 people. But the southern Luzerne township has nearly three times the overall population of Rice, so the gain translates into a 1.5 percent increase.
The county’s biggest losers, in raw numbers, were its two largest cities: Wilkes-Barre’s population dropped 232 people, from 41,475 in 2010 to 41,243; Hazleton lost an even 100 residents, from 25,324 to 25,224, according to the estimates.
For Wilkes-Barre, that’s a loss of 0.6 percent, enough to tie it with much smaller Sugar Notch borough (declining from 989 to 983) as Luzerne County’s biggest loser percentage wise. Hazleton’s numbers translate to a loss of about 0.4 percent.
Overall, Luzerne County’s population stayed relatively stable. The county gained 162 people from 2010 to 2011, but lost 60 from 2011 to 2012, for a net increase of 102, or 0.03 percent.
Of the county’s 76 incorporated municipalities, 45 saw increases while 30 saw population declines. Jeddo, by far the county’s smallest municipality, saw no one move in or leave either year, starting at 98 in 2010 and staying there in 2011 and 2012.
After Rice and Butler townships, the biggest gains numerically were in Newport Township (79) Dallas Township (55) and Hazle Township (41). Percentage-wise, the top five were Rice Township, Laurel Run (3 percent), White Haven (1.9 percent), Black Creek and Butler Townships (both 1.5 percent).
After Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, the biggest numerical drops were in Kingston (minus 43), Nanticoke (minus 40) and Jackson Township (minus 23). Percentage-wise, Nescopeck, Jackson Township and Freeland all lost 0.5 percent.