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"Everyone it stacey and Cardiff and this is the indicator from planet money today on the show we are shining spotlight on Lancaster. County Pennsylvania We visited the county a couple of months ago because it represents this kind of economic puzzle it is a heavily rural county with a lot of manufacturing jobs and a very low share of of college educated workers these are economic traits that have been devastating to the economies of other similar counties including a lot of other counties in Pennsylvania itself and yet Lincolnshire County is doing great. It's thriving why is that. What makes its economy? Special would have find out. We took a drive through the county with an economist who lives there and economists who happens to specialize in the very trends that have kept lancasters economy resilient this message comes from. NPR sponsor. American Express say yes to payment flexibility and card choices including ones with no annual fee. Don't do you business without it. Rates and fees apply learn more at American Express Dot com slash. No annual fee support also comes from Google fi a phone plan by google. Google fi is made with features that people actually want like unlimited data per line and the freedom to use any smartphone. You want or already have learn more at at five dot. Google dot com on a recent Tuesday morning indicator team was driving through Lancaster. County Pennsylvania With Adam Ozanich and economist. Who lives there? They're these houses are nice by the old mill. Is Dave concerns left back to that road. Can I go right here doing. Yeah okay so we took a few dragging their Cardiff and after passing through some leafy suburbs similar to the one that Adam grew up in we stopped to check out the Mennonite historical Oracle Society which has exhibits about. The county's famous amish. Mennonite past is kind of this is kind of exciting spot right here because you have like outlet shopping shopping rate here but like right there like if you just go like two hundred yards. You've got farms like it's it gets extremely rural extremely remove fast outlet. Shopping and farms is exciting at Lancaster. County has this kind of unique topography. It is a rural county. That is about a two hour Dr West of Philadelphia. It has five hundred forty thousand residents and it's probably best known for its big amish community and its sprawling farms where yes. If you're driving along. On one of the highways you will often spot amish people and horse buggies yet but here are to economic facts about Lancaster. County the start of our economic puzzle. I I it has a big base of manufacturing jobs three decades ago more than thirty percent of the jobs in the county were in manufacturing and then two decades ago those those jobs started disappearing just like in other parts of the country. The jobs rather outsource to countries overseas or replaced by machines. But even now fifteen fifteen percent of all jobs in Lancaster are still in manufacturing. And that's almost double the percentage for the United States as a whole and here's the second fact. The county has a much smaller share of college educated adults than the rest of the country does and if you look at so many other cities and towns and counties in the US with these same economic characteristics they have suffered brutally in the last few decades as the lost manufacturing jobs often were not replaced by really good new jobs in other industries and so this communities ended up getting in kind of hollowed out but Lancaster County has avoided that fate. Yeah exactly that is the puzzle. Lancaster County is doing great. The county's households make more money than people in the rest as to the US. A higher share of the adults in the county have jobs than in the rest of the US and an index published earlier this year by the research company. Gallup found that Lancaster County County ranks eighth out of one hundred and fifty six counties that it surveyed for the wellbeing of its residents and that includes things like good career paths socialize and the health of those residents and you can see the the the way that strong economy sort of translates into overall quality of living. Is there too so the average life expectancy accuracy and Mike Stern is higher as well. So how did Lancaster County pull this off. Part of the answer is that there are other industries that have helped to cushion the blow of last manufacturing jobs ops Princeton's two thirds of the land in the county is farmland so there's a lot of agriculture cattle and poultry and eggs plus. The county includes dozens of small towns and villages ages with Quirky names like Paradise Mountjoy or my personal favorite burden hand Pennsylvania and they are themselves tourist attractions with architecture. Sometimes dating back hundreds in years to when German settlers I moved to the area and then there is Lancaster city which is by far the biggest and actually the only city in Lancaster County. The city city has about sixty thousand residents so only about eleven percent of the people who live in the county live in the city but as we drove into the city from the suburbs. Adam explain saying that the city has an important economic relationship with the rest of the county one that is still kind of evolving back in the eighties and nineties. When Adam was growing up in the Lancaster suburbs outside of the city Eddie? He remembers that the city itself had a lot of crime. And it also wasn't a place you wanted to go in fact you can only remember going there for two reasons. Entire childhood one was to go to the doctor and the other titanic. Downtown movie theater which doesn't exist anymore. I mean you had to write. I'm the king. Yes you did. Yes you had to. But Lancaster city has been revitalised since then. Local business leaders and local politicians have taken steps to attract investment in new businesses says to lower crime to restore replace crumbling buildings and now it has boutique stores gourmet coffee shops and we can confirm this firsthand a fantastic the ethnic dining scene. It's important to do that. LEGWORK reporting yeah now people come downtown to shop they come down to downtown to go to eat. It's it's it's become like sort of a magnet and draw says all this buried economic activity tourism retail restaurants. Construction Agriculture is made possible by a powerful trend that exists in Lancaster. County population growth. That's the key to this puzzle. The size of Lancaster County population has been growing steadily for decades. which it's the exact opposite of what's happening in most Pennsylvania counties and also about half of the counties in the US whose populations have been falling especially rural counties to think about becoming an entrepreneur in that environment is really tough? Because you know you're going to have less customer every year when a city or county has a falling population that usually means it will have have a week less vibrant economy because it means there are just fewer customers but there also fewer workers for businesses to hire so fewer businesses get started it also means the local government collect fewer tax dollars which could be spent on infrastructure. Teachers police officers social programs pensions. This makes place less attractive so then even more people leave and it creates a downward spiral. Adams's Lancaster County has had the opposite. Spiral an upward spiral. A rising population has given the economy. A boost which which itself disincentivize is that people already lived there from leaving it and it brings in new businesses a good example. The Tech Entrepreneur Kyle somber founded the passenger coffee shop in Lancaster City. Where coincidentally we had just stopped? Adam explains so right. Now we're on the east end of the city Eddie and actually the coffee shop that we earlier they Row certain coffee in the cell the beans to other coffee shops and it was started by a local local entrepreneurs and then an entrepreneur who went to Silicon Valley founded few startups sold the startups in sort of moved back here to. Aw do great stuff with the money. He made out there and he's been starting businesses and he's not the only person who had seen knew that as well there couple of reasons that Lancaster's population has continued to climb. I have a lot of kids which is enough to outpace the number of people who pass away who die not to be crude about it. Yes so there's a high birth rate in Lancaster for sure and I think that that is partly due to sort of the mennonite roots around. Here's the people have bigger families here and second immigration Lancaster County. The end especially Lancaster city have a reputation for being welcoming to immigrants and refugees immigrants from all over the world from Vietnam in Somalia in Mexico and and immigration obviously by definition helps population grow. It is literally people who move to an area but immigrants also contribute to the Lancaster economy. Other interesting interesting subtle ways and they are a big part of the reason that Lancaster city in particular has become a unique place. In fact. That is the subject of part two of our spotlight on Lancaster. Mr County which will run next week by the way if you live in a city with an interesting economic lesson."