Pennsylvania long has been one of America's most rural states, but that is in the process of receding into the past tense.

According to Penn State's Pennsylvania State Data Center, the state is in the process of becoming far more urbanized.

From 2000 through 2010, the center reported, the number of Pennsylvanians living in urban areas increased from 9.46 million to more than 9.9 million, an increase of 5.6 percent. In 2000, 77.1 percent of state residents were urban dwellers, compared with 78.7 percent in 2010.

Although 62 of the state's 67 counties have rural and urban populations, the percentage within counties has shifted more to the urban side.

The ongoing shift has significant implications for everything from housing, through employment through transportation and education.

But, as demonstrated by the escalating severity of fiscal problems faced by the commonwealth's cities, state policy has not kept pace with the demographic shift back to urban areas.

While cities themselves have lost population, their near suburbs often have grown. Yet the cities often maintain the primary cost for regional service burdens.

Pennsylvania needs to modernize local governance by ensuring that resources are available where people actually live, rather than to reflect a commonwealth that no longer exists.