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Lehigh, Northampton Counties Among Few in Pennsylvania to See Population Growth

By Colin McEvoy on March 28, 2018

Lehigh and Northampton counties were two of only 18 counties in Pennsylvania which have had an increase in population since 2010, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates. In the 49 other counties, the population estimate was unchanged or decreased.

The updated population estimate for the region is 840,550, according to the Census Bureau, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 2016 estimate, making the Lehigh Valley the 69th largest metropolitan statistical area by population in the United States.

Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), notes that there is a direct connection between economic growth and population growth, because the biggest current factor in economic development is workforce.

“The economy and population of the Lehigh Valley are growing together as new businesses and people come here or start here,” Cunningham said.

“We would love to see even more population growth because we are a job center now for a broader region,” Cunningham said. “Job availability in the Lehigh Valley is outpacing population growth right now, with 92,000 workers a day travelling into the region from Berks, Schuylkill, Carbon, Monroe, Bucks and Montgomery counties.”

Lehigh County’s population estimate is now 366,494, and Northampton County’s is 303,405, according to the Census Bureau’s updated 2017 population estimates for metropolitan areas and counties, which were released this month.

Lehigh County tied with Cumberland and Lebanon counties for the largest year-over-year growth rate in the state, at 0.9 percent, according to LVEDC Director of Research and Analysis George Lewis, who reviewed the Census Bureau’s new estimates.

Additionally, Lehigh County was the third-fastest growing county in Pennsylvania from 2010 to 2017, Lewis said. The county population grew by 16,821 over that time, a seven-year growth rate of 1.9 percent, which falls behind only Cumberland and Centre counties.

Northampton County’s seven-year growth rate was 1.9 percent, for a population change of 5,709 from 2010 to 2017, which places it in the top 13 in the state, Lewis said.

From 2016 to 2017, Lehigh County saw a population increase of 3,381, while Northampton County’s one-year population change was 1,645, according to the Census Bureau estimates.

The state of Pennsylvania itself also saw a growth in population under the new estimates. The new state population figure is 12,805,537, an increase of 18,452 – or 0.14 percent – over the previous year.

Lehigh Valley had previously been the 68th largest metropolitan statistical area by population in the United States, but has dropped to 69th largest after being passed by McAllen, Texas, which grew to 860,661, according to the Census Bureau.

The Census estimates uses the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan statistical area, which covering Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon counties in Pennsylvania, as well as Warren County, New Jersey.

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