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Senior Citizens Gaining Numbers Compared to College Students

October 12, 1991

HARRISBURG (AP) _ The state has more students in dorms than it has senior citizens in nursing homes, but that could change if a current trend continues.

According to a report issued by the Pennsylvania State Data Center, nearly 25 percent more people live in college dormitories than in nursing homes.

The number of students living in college residence halls rose from 131,942 to 132,187 between 1980 and 1990, the report said. The nursing home population grew from 72,285 to 106,454 during the same period.

Philadelphia County has the highest dorm population with 13,418, followed by Allegheny County with 12,230 and Centre County, 12,199.

Allegheny County has the most people in nursing homes with 10,706, followed by Philadelphia with 9,353 and Montgomery with 7,574.

Diane Shoop, a spokeswoman who worked on the report, said her own father is typical of what the statistics mean - he’s retired but works in a Harrisburg grocery store to keep busy.

″I know as you go around even to McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants, you see a lot of older people working,″ Ms. Shoop said Friday.

Department of Labor and Industry spokesman Jack McGettigan said the statistics are reflected in the number of older people working, which has risen over the past few years, while fewer people ages 16 to 19 are working.

The changes are forcing employers to hire and retain more older workers, McGettigan said.

″Retail and fast food places were having a hard time hiring workers so they started looking for people who had retired,″ McGettigan said.

Located at the Penn State Harrisburg campus, the data center is the state’s official population and economic statistics service.