PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – The future of Pennsylvania’s population is expected to shift with more seniors settling down in rural areas of the state.

Multiple organizations discussed the data Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol building, including the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Data Center at Penn State Harrisburg.

New state data suggests the number of students 19 and younger in Pennsylvania will drop by hundreds of thousands by 2040.

That means fewer people going into the workforce just as more Pennsylvanians retire.

“The people are moving in to retire there and they’re not the ones producing more children,” said state representative Dan Moul of Adams County.

Moul is talking about retirees from Baltimore and D.C. moving to the southern part of the Midstate to retire.

In fact, all Midstate counties are expected to gain in population except for Perry and Adams. However, for the rest of the state, the data suggests the drop in population will strain an already strained workforce.

“We’re talking about the workforce availability. We have that problem now and we are going to be losing some folks,” said state representative Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County.

The shortage of workers is expected to hit rural counties the hardest.

These trends don’t come as a surprise as Ohio and West Virginia are expected to see similar changes as well.

“What we are experiencing here is not unique. This is a part of a larger macro-economic trend that has been years and years in the making,” said Dr. Kyle Kopko, the executive director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

Now the data isn’t going to be 100% accurate, but these researchers and state workers know there is no time to waste.

“We have to start the discussion now and that’s what this is all about,” said Pashinski.