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Eastern Pennsylvania counties, including Lancaster, continue to see population growth while western Pennsylvania sees decline.

Lancaster County’s population continues growing at a pace to put it over the 550,000 mark by 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimates released today.

The county grew to 542,903 people last year, an increase of 3,766 fueled in part by immigration.

Lancaster County experienced a 0.7 percent growth rate, making it the sixth-fastest growing county in Pennsylvania. Its growth rate ticked up from 0.4 percent the previous year.

Among neighboring counties, only Lebanon County grew faster, with a rate of 0.86 percent.

Significantly, Lancaster County actually saw more residents move out than move in from elsewhere in the United States. The county had a net loss of 64 residents through domestic migration.

Lancaster County’s growth came from births (7,206) exceeding deaths (5,008) and by an influx of 1,653 immigrants. (Some county residents may also have emigrated to other countries, but the Census data does not include a figure for that.)

PA claims 5th place

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania reversed a one-year decline in population, growing by 0.14 percent in 2017 to 12,805,537.

With Illinois losing more than 33,000 residents, Pennsylvania slipped by it to become the fifth most populous state behind California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Lancaster County remains the sixth most populous Pennsylvania county, behind Philadelphia (1,580,863), Allegheny (1,223,048), Montgomery (826,075), Bucks (628,341) and Delaware (564,696).

Lancaster County’s one-year growth rate (0.7 percent) was also the sixth strongest, behind Lehigh (0.93 percent), Monroe (0.92 percent), Pike (0.91 percent), Cumberland (0.87 percent) and Lebanon (0.86 percent).

Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, 39 lost population last year. Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, was the biggest loser, shedding 4,505 residents.

Cameron County, north of State College, lost population at a 1.94 percent rate, the fastest pace in the state.