- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pennsylvania’s overall population rose modestly last year, as did counties around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

Census estimates show that the state’s population last July 1 was 12,773,801 - about 9,300 more people than the previous year. Some metro areas gained population, while many rural counties continued to lose people.

Philadelphia County’s population increased in 2013 to 1,553,165. That was a gain of about 4,500, and the most of any county in the state. The population in Allegheny County was 1,231,527 - a gain of 1,615.

Luzerne County declined the most, with a drop of 1,320 people, and Cambria and Monroe counties both declined by more than 1,000 people.

Montgomery County gained 3,430 people, Chester County gained 3,278 and Lancaster County was up 3,164.

Since 2006 Philadelphia County has added more than 64,000 people but the new census numbers suggest the population rise has slowed. According to census estimates, last year’s increase is less than the 10,150-person increase in 2012 and the 12,491-person increase in 2011.

It is too soon to know if a downward trend may be taking hold. But the data raise questions about whether problems in city schools and the rising cost of housing are affecting residents’ wherewithal to remain in Philadelphia, said Temple University researcher and demographer David Elesh.

“It is one year, and one year does not qualify as a trend, but it is worth looking at,” Elesh told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia’s growth last year primarily stemmed from births and foreign immigrants.

After peaking at more than 2 million people in 1950, the city’s population began a 50-year decline that paralleled the loss of its manufacturing base.

The new estimates are projections based on birth and death records, as well as migration data based on recent American Community Survey results, federal tax returns, group-housing data such as prisons and dorms, and other data sources.

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