Where is population booming in Centre County? See the latest Census estimates for 2023

Can you guess which of Centre County’s 35 municipalities saw the largest population increase over the last year? If you’ve been paying attention to the news, it might not come as too much of a surprise.

Newly released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show significant growth in some areas across the country, including gains in some Northeast and Midwest cities and population booms in Texas and Florida, among other states.

Centre County’s population grew by roughly 0.17% from 2022 to 2023 thanks to an influx of an estimated 62 residents, bringing the county total to 157,795 people as of July 1, 2023.

Although the county grew as a whole, not every area saw population gains between 2022 and 2023. Here’s what you need to know about the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Which Centre County municipality is growing the most?

The latest batch of census data makes that answer pretty clear.

No municipality in Centre County grew between 2022 and 2023 quite like Benner Township, which observed a 4.42% increase over that span. Census data estimates roughly 8,978 people now live in the township, up nearly 400 people from 2022, but down just 25 from a recent high set in 2020.

Benner Township’s population boom comes as the thriving corridor welcomes several new developments, including a Giant supermarket that opened in 2022 and in-progress plans for new hotels, a new McDonald’s restaurant and what could become central Pennsylvania’s first Wawa. Long-developing plans for a controversial fulfillment center warehouse remain in Benner Township in flux, but a new set of preliminary plans was submitted to local officials back in March.

Did any other municipalities see population gains?

Seven other Centre County municipalities saw their populations grow between 2022 and 2023, including Halfmoon Township (0.9%), the State College Borough (0.77%) and Spring Township (0.66%). Walker, College, Potter and Union townships all saw more modest population increases ranging between 0.17% and 0.22% between 2022 and 2023, according to census data.

The State College Borough observed the highest per-person gain of any municipality, but that is not much of a shock coming from the county’s largest municipality. State College added roughly 309 residents between 2022 and 2023, census records indicate.

Howard Township is the only county municipality whose population did not change in that span, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. An estimated 868 people live in the township as of July 1, 2023 — the same as in 2021 and 2022, but up just one person from 2020’s estimate.

Which Centre County areas are losing residents?

The rest of Centre County’s municipalities observed population decreases between 2022 and 2023. No area was proportionally hit harder than the Howard Borough, which lost nine residents, but saw its population drop 1.35%. Boroughs in Unionville (down 1.15%), Centre Hall (down 1.12%) and Philipsburg (down 1.02%) followed with Centre County’s biggest losses.

Ferguson Township, the county’s second-most populous municipality, lost an estimated 166 residents between 2022 and 2023, marking the largest per-person loss in Centre County over that span. As of July 1, 2023, roughly 18,939 people still live in the township following its 0.87% drop, according to census data.

Most municipalities that lost residents between 2022 and 2023 saw only minor drops. Twenty-two of the 26 municipalities that observed population decreases saw drops of below 1%, and seven of them observed drops under 0.5%.

What about the rest of the country?

Roughly 334.9 million people live in the U.S. as of July 1, 2023, according to census estimates. As a whole, Pennsylvania is home to about 12.96 million, down just about 0.08% from 12.97 million in 2022.

A report from the U.S. Census Bureau says cities in the South with populations of at least 50,000 people grew exceptionally fast between 2022 and 2023 (increases of 1% on average). Northeast and Midwest cities in that category reported gains after observing declines between 2021 and 2022.

“The population growth across the South in 2023 was driven by significant numeric and percentage gains among its cities,” Crystal Delbé, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Population Division, wrote in a statement. “Thirteen of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South, with eight in Texas alone.”

San Antonio, Texas, added more people to its population than any other city in 2023, the bureau reports. New York City remains the nation’s most populous city (8.3 million people), while Philadelphia sits in fourth place with roughly 1.6 million residents.