Lehigh Valley GDP Reaches Record-High $41.2 Billion

By Colin McEvoy on December 17, 2019

A sector-by-sector breakdown of the Lehigh Valley’s record-high $41.2 billion gross domestic product (GDP).

The Lehigh Valley’s economy has once again reached record heights, with its gross domestic product rising to $41.2 billion, according to newly-released federal data.

That is a 4.4% increase over the previous year, and marks the first time in regional history that Lehigh Valley’s GDP has surpassed the $41 billion mark.

“The Lehigh Valley is continuing its largest period of economic growth since the early 20th Century,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “What’s most significant is the balanced growth across numerous sectors that employ a full range of skills and educational levels from professional office to advanced manufacturing to medical technology to e-commerce and industrial.”

Gross domestic product is a measurement of a region’s economic output. The Lehigh Valley’s GDP ranks 66th out of the 384 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, and is larger than that of the entire states of Vermont ($28.5 billion) and Wyoming ($32.8 billion).

If the Lehigh Valley were a country, its economy would be the 90th largest in the world, according to LVEDC Director of Research & Analysis George Lewis, who analyzed the data compiled by the World Bank.

The GDP figures were released Dec. 12 by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The figures are from the year 2018, the most recent year for which measurable GDP data is available.

Manufacturing continues to drive much of the Lehigh Valley’s economic growth. It is the region’s second-largest economic sector, making up $7.3 billion (or 17.7%) of the overall Lehigh Valley GDP.

“The Lehigh Valley continues its growth as one of the country’s largest manufacturing centers for a region of our size,” Cunningham said. “Manufacturing is nearly 18 percent of the Lehigh Valley’s economy, in comparison to it only being 12 percent of the U.S. economy.”

Finance, insurance, and real estate is once again the largest sector in the Lehigh Valley economy, making up $7.8 billion (or 18.9%) of the total GDP. Education and health care makes up $6.1 billion (14.8%), while professional and business services makes up $5.1 billion (12.4%).

The regional economy saw year-over-year growth in nearly each sector. Below is a sector-by-sector breakdown of the Lehigh Valley’s 2018 GDP, along with the percentage change from the previous year:

  • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate: $7.8 billion (+5.4%)
  • Manufacturing: $7.3 billion (+5.8%)
  • Education and Health Care: $6.1 billion (+7%)
  • Professional and Business Services: $5.1 billion (-1.9%)
  • Wholesale Trade: $3 billion (not reported in 2017)
  • Retail Trade: $2.4 billion (+4.4%)
  • Transportation and Warehousing: $2.3 billion (+9.52%)
  • Information: $2.1 billion (+10.5%)
  • Construction: $1.8 billion (not reported in 2017)
  • Arts, Entertainment, Accommodation & Food Services: $1.7 billion (no change)

The regional GDP increased from an adjusted $39.4 billion in 2017 to $41.2 billion in 2018, according to BEA. Figures from 2017 may be different than previously reported because BEA continually adjusts its data to account for new information and projections.

The $41.2 billion GDP is based upon private sector economic data and does not include government spending. If government spending were added, the regional GDP would increase to $45 billion.

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