Financial Security






Financial security covers poverty rates, personal incomes, unemployment rates, homeownership and rental costs, and transportation options. Data from Lancaster County indicates both strengths and challenges: while overall poverty rates and the need for some forms of public assistance are below aggregate state rates, rents are somewhat higher, housing is somewhat less affordable, and there are clear racial, ethnic, and household-type disparities in many financial security indicators.

Income, Employment and Poverty

While Lancaster County’s overall poverty rate in 2014-18 of 10% was below the state and nation, poverty was much higher in some groups:

  • 25% of Lancaster City residents lived below the poverty line.
  • Rates among African American and Hispanic residents were double or triple the rates for Asian and white residents.
  • Similar trends were seen for children, with rates of 38% of African American and 33% of Hispanic children in poverty.

Poverty was relatively low among veterans, at 4%, and among those employed, at 3%.

Median incomes in Lancaster County in 2014-18 differed significantly by household type:

  • Single women with children had the lowest median incomes: $29,800, compared to $47,200 for single men with children.
  • Married couples without children had a median of $82,500, compared to $88,400 for those with children.
  • In the City of Lancaster, incomes for all groups were lower than Lancaster County as a whole.

In 2014-18, median incomes in Lancaster County were highest among Asian and white residents and lowest among Hispanic and African American residents, who were earning less than 60% of median white incomes.

Living wage represents the income level a household needs to pay for necessities, including housing and food, without outside assistance. Lancaster County’s living wage levels in 2019 were a bit above Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties, and slightly below Chester County, but all differences at each level were of less than a dollar an hour.

  • Family of four with two earners: $17.58/hr ($73,117/yr)
  • Family of four with one earner: $27.34/hr ($56,876/yr)
  • Single parent with two children: $32.37/hr ($67,322/yr)

In 2014-18, unemployment rates in the county showed racial and ethnic disparities:

  • 5% of African American residents were unemployed.
  • 2% of Hispanic residents were unemployed.
  • 6% of white residents were unemployed.

Unemployment rates were higher for each of these groups in the City of Lancaster.

Public Assistance

Public programs help the unemployed and others in need. While a small share of Lancaster County households received cash assistance (3%), a higher level participates in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps).

In 2014-18, about 30% African American and Hispanic residents in the county utilized SNAP benefits, compared to 7% of white residents received SNAP. The City of Lancaster had higher rates for every group during this period.

In 2014-18, 2.9% of Lancaster County households received public assistance income.  This level was down from 6.7% in 2000.

In 2020, 48% of students in Lancaster County were eligible for a free or reduced price lunch, below the statewide rate of 54%.

Housing

Housing costs, including both homeownership and rent, were somewhat higher in Lancaster County than the state average, and than most surrounding counties.

In 2014-18, the median home value for Lancaster County was $204,000, above the statewide median of $177,300 and slightly below the national median of $208,600. This represents a 12% increase since 2000, compared to a 22% state and national increase.

In 2014-18, homes in Lancaster County were somewhat unaffordable, and less affordable than the Pennsylvania average, with a high ratio of home value to median household income across all racial and ethnic groups.

Homeownership rates varied by race and ethnicity. In Lancaster County in 2014-18, homeownership rates were:

  • 71% among white residents
  • 62% among Asian residents
  • 37% among Hispanic residents
  • 33% among African American residents

In the City of Lancaster, homeownership levels were below county and state levels:

  • 52% among white residents
  • 40% of Asian residents
  • 33% of Hispanic residents
  • 30% of African Americans residents

In 2014-18, the median monthly rent in Lancaster County was $996, higher than the $932 statewide median, below the $1,042 national median, and a 13% increase since 2000. The City of Lancaster, with a median monthly rent of $849, has also increased 13% since 2000.

In 2014-18, Lancaster County renters spent 30% of their income on rent, slightly below the state and nation (both at 32%). Renting was least affordable for residents in the City of Lancaster, where renters spent 35% of their income on rent in 2014-18, up from 28% in 2000.

Transportation

Transportation options are a measure of personal wealth and important for social participation, including access to employment opportunities. Lancaster County has slightly lower rates of vehicle ownership than most surrounding counties and shows racial disparities in transportation utilization.

In 2014-18, 10% of Lancaster County households did not have a vehicle, the same rate as in 2000. This is slightly below the state rate of 11% and slightly above the national rate of 9%. In the City of Lancaster, 21% of households lacked access to a vehicle. This is down from 24% in 2000.

In 2014-18, white residents of Lancaster County report the highest levels of driving alone to work (83%), versus carpooling (10%), taking public transportation (1%) or using another form of transportation, including motorcycles, bicycles, taxis or walking (6%). In comparison, 79% of Asians, 74% of African Americans and 69% of Hispanics report driving alone to work, with each group reporting higher rates of alternate means of transportation.





INDICATORS TREND
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance in Grade 11 English Not Applicable
Student Performance in Grade 11 Math Decreasing
Per-Student Spending Maintaining
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Rate of Foster Care Admissions Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
College Graduation Rates Decreasing
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Violent Crime Rate Maintaining
Incarceration Rate Maintaining
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population Density Increasing
Air Quality Increasing
Water Use Decreasing
Waterways Impaired by Pollution Not Applicable
Population by Age Not Applicable
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People with Disabilities Increasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Employment by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Workers by Occupation Not Applicable
Change in Labor Force Maintaining
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Since 2000 Increasing
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Employer Size Not Applicable
Change in Number of Businesses by Sector Increasing
Change in Total Agricultural Sales Increasing
Spending for Local Government Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Veterans Living in Poverty Decreasing
Working Poor Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Household Receiving Temporary Assistance Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
Median Home Value Maintaining
Occupied Housing Units Decreasing
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Rent Maintaining
Cost of Renting Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Health Status Maintaining
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Mortality Rates Decreasing
Fatal Drug Overdoses Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Increasing
STEM Graduates Increasing
Science and Engineering Research and Development Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable


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