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 Armstrong County is presented.
According to data from the US Census Bureau, Armstrong County lost 3,678 residents or 5.3 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 Armstrong County resident is 46 which is higher than the state median age of 40.7. The percentage of residents with a high school degree or higher is 89.3 percent, just shy of the Pennsylvania rate of 89.9 percent.
In Armstrong County, the median household income is $47,257, about 21 percent lower than the state median household income of $56,951. The poverty rate is 13 percent in the county, just below the poverty rate of 13.1 percent in Pennsylvania overall.
While median household income is lower in Armstrong County than in other parts of Pennsylvania, those engaged in unconventional natural gas development earn much more. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual earnings for a worker engaged in major oil and gas services (NAICS Code 213112), which includes preparing wells for production, maintaining and enhancing the output of producing wells, and exploring wells, was $74,043 in 2018. Data was not available for other areas of oil and gas production.
Furthermore, wages in major oil and gas services has grown by about 17 percent over the past several years. Workers in the shale gas industry earned $63,136 per year on average in 2016 before jumping to $74,043 in 2018.
As the industry changes and works to overcome market headwinds, it is unclear if or how residents of Armstrong County will be impacted.