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Lehigh Valley One of Few Areas in Pennsylvania Growing in Population

By Colin McEvoy on June 10, 2019

Lehigh Valley is one of the few areas in the state of Pennsylvania that has experienced a growth in population over the last eight years.

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

Don Cunningham, President & 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. “Through our new Made Possible in Lehigh Valley campaign, we are making sure people from outside the region know Lehigh Valley is a place where you can create a life, a business, or a career on your terms.”

The Lehigh County population as of 2018 is 368,100, which is 18,424 higher than in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Northampton County’s population as of 2018 is 304,807, an increase of 7,113 over that eight-year span.

At a city level, only 12 of Pennsylvania’s 56 cities saw a population growth, and Lehigh Valley’s three cities – Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton – were three of those 12, according to George Lewis, LVEDC Director of Research & Analysis.

Allentown and Bethlehem ranked second and third among cities in Pennsylvania for population growth since the 2010 census. Philadelphia was the only city in the state with a higher amount of population growth.

The population of Allentown as of 2018 was 121,433, which is a 3,401 increase since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bethlehem’s population was 75,790 (an 808 increase), and the population of Easton was 27,216 (a 416 increase).

Based on percentage growth, Allentown (2.8%) ranked second among cities in Pennsylvania since the 2010 census, behind Philadelphia. The population of Easton grew by 1.5% in that time, and Bethlehem’s population grew by 1.1%.

In contrast, other cities in Pennsylvania have lost population since 2010, including Johnstown (-7.4%), Erie (-5.2%), Altoona (-5.0%), and Pittsburgh (-1.4%), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lehigh Valley’s population growth is not limited to cities. Among townships, Upper Macungie has added more people than any other township in Pennsylvania since 2010, Lewis said. The township’s population has grown by 4,698 in that time, or 23.4%.

Among boroughs, only 205 of the 967 in Pennsylvania (21%) have grown in population since 2010. Twelve of Lehigh Valley’s 27 boroughs saw population growth: Alburtis, Catasauqua, Chapman, Coopersburg, Coplay, East Bangor, Emmaus, Fountain Hill, Macungie, Slatington, Walnutport, and Wind Gap.

Census Bureau information is the basis for a significant part of LVEDC’s analysis of the regional economy and labor market, Lewis said. With the 2020 Census just a year away, LVEDC is joining with other Lehigh Valley organizations to help ensure a complete and accurate count of the population in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

“Census data provides not only economic development insights, but also are used to determine funding allocations for more than 300 federal programs affecting such critical needs as health, education, social services, and infrastructure,” Lewis said.

Additionally, going much further back in time, the Pennsylvania State Data Center at Penn State Harrisburg released a report on population change by county since the 1900 Census.

The population of Lehigh County has grown by 292% since 1900, and the population of Northampton County has grown by 206%, according to the report. Ten of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania have seen population decreases since 1900.

June 2019 Issue of LVstartup E-Newsletter Has Been Released

The June 2019 issue of LVstartup, a monthly e-newsletter about entrepreneurs and startups in the Lehigh Valley, has been released.Click here to see the new issue, and [...]

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