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Lehigh Valley Continues to See Steady 18-34 Population Growth

By George Lewis on October 4, 2019

Newly-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals the Lehigh Valley has continued to see steady population growth in the 18–34 age group, an important demographic for the regional economy.

The Census Bureau recently released 1-year population estimates for 2018 that include more than 40 demographic and economic characteristics of cities, counties, and states.

In 2018, the population between the ages of 18 and 34 in Lehigh and Northampton counties grew to nearly 149,000, a 1-year increase of 1.1%. That figure is significant because the 18-to-34 age group is the largest portion of the labor force in the United States, and therefore critical to economic growth in the region.

“Attracting and retaining talent is the number one issue we hear when we talk with companies,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “In this period of historically low unemployment, the ability to attract talent is a distinct advantage in recruiting new employers to come here and convincing existing employers to grow here.”

The population aged 18-to-34 in Lehigh Valley has grown by more than 1% on an annualized basis in four of the last five years. In each of the last five years, population in the 18-to-34 age group has increased at a greater rate than the overall population for Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Lehigh and Northampton counties are two of only 20 counties in Pennsylvania that have grown in population from 2010 to 2018, according to Census Bureau estimates. In the 47 other counties, the population estimate was unchanged or decreased.

Urban areas of Lehigh Valley have the highest percentage of residents in the 18-to-34 age group:  28% in Allentown and 30% in Bethlehem. The most recent release of Census data includes cities with populations of more than 60,000. Smaller cities, such as Easton, will be included in future data releases, but 2017 estimates showed that 31% of Easton’s population was between the ages of 18 and 34.

The Lehigh Valley’s 5-year increase among the 18-to-34 population from 2013 to 2018 was 4.6%. That compares favorably to similarly sized markets, like Charleston, S.C. (+3.4%); Albany, N.Y. (+0.8%); Dayton, Ohio (-1%); and Rochester, N.Y. (-2.5%).

Census data is a valuable source of information LVEDC uses to increase and share knowledge about Lehigh Valley’s economy and talent market. It’s also is used to establish legislative districts and distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to state and local governments.

With the 2020 Census right around the corner, LVEDC is actively supporting the efforts of county and municipal governments to ensure an accurate and complete count of all Lehigh Valley residents.

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