This one’s for the “evil” New Yorkers, Philadelphians and suspect New Jerseyans who frequently get credited for Wilkes-Barre’s abysmal crime rate.
A report released Thursday by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development at Wilkes University says Luzerne and Lackawanna counties can thank those pesky outsiders with providing the foundation on which our economy is poised to grow.
Without that so-called in-migration, our region’s economy would be further faltering.
The report lists our regional economy’s strengths and weaknesses. Among our challenges:
• High poverty rates
• Low wages
• Inadequate infrastructure
• Inefficient government
Among our successes:
• Robust health and education sectors
• Great recreation opportunities
• Abundant energy sources
• Stable housing market
… and, yes, an influx of folks from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Our stagnant regional population would be on a devastating decline if out-of-town families and professionals hadn’t decided to settle their roots firmly in our area.
Without that in-migration, our regional economy would be even more dire. Our aging population is dying at rates faster than babies are being born. We have a well-documented brain drain of college graduates who look outside the area for work. And we have a perpetually high unemployment rate.
Despite all that, and to our economy’s benefit, more people have moved into Luzerne and Lackawanna counties since 2010 than have moved out.
So let’s hear it for those who chose to make our area their home at a time when so many of our native sons and daughters have chosen to do the exact opposite.