Hoping to boost economy, Pa. lawmakers look to demographics

    Social worker Roberta Marzano with Caring People Alliance speaks with seniors at the Fels South Philadelphia Community Center in Philadelphia

    Social worker Roberta Marzano with Caring People Alliance speaks with seniors at the Fels South Philadelphia Community Center in Philadelphia

    As the end of this legislative session gets nearer and Pennsylvania state legislators take on a long list of bills, one committee is looking at a less urgent matter — demographic changes.

    Several experts explained the structural shifts that could ultimately change the face of the commonwealth to the Senate Majority Policy Committee.

    Committee chairman Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, said he wants to use expert testimony on demographics to come up with forward-thinking legislation.

    “Too often, government gets to look at today,” he said. “How to we fix this pothole today? How do we fix this bridge?”

    He said there may be some economic issues to be solved through studying the trends.

    “Some of those … issues can be impacted by additional legislation,” he said. “Some of those are purely private-sector decisions. We’ve got a lot of testimony to go through now to see the logical step is next.”

    For one, the commonwealth is home to the country’s fifth-oldest population. That’s partly because many young people don’t stay once they have degrees — they leave for cities and states with more job opportunities.

    Pennsylvania also has lower-than-average immigration — something that can help offset the “brain drain” that happens when young people leave.

    Argall, who is currently distributing the information around the Senate, said he is optimistic about drafting new legislation based on it when the new session kicks off in January.

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