Lehigh Valley’s GDP Reaches $34.3 Billion, Continuing Pattern of Growth
By Colin McEvoy on April 14, 2015
The Lehigh Valley’s GDP has risen to $34.3 billion, continuing a near-constant rate of growth for the region each year over the past decade, and making the region’s economy larger than that of 102 other countries in the world.
The region’s gross domestic product for 2013, the most recent measurable year, is 9.65 percent higher than a decade earlier. It has risen every year since 2003, even when adjusted for inflation, except for 2008 and 2009 due to the Great Recession.
“The economic output of the Lehigh Valley region has been on a steady upward trajectory,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “We are outpacing the growth of most areas of our size and many areas even larger than us. This is important because it translates to more economic opportunity for the people of the Lehigh Valley.”
The Lehigh Valley’s economy ranks 75th out of the 381 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. At $34.3 billion, it is larger that of such countries as Jordan ($33.6 billion), Tanzania ($33.2 billion) and Bahrain ($32.9 billion), according to figures from the United Nations.
Within the United States, the Lehigh Valley’s GDP is larger than that of the entire state of Vermont ($30.7 billion), and regions with similar GDPs include Charleston, S.C. ($32.68 billion); Harrisburg, Pa. ($31.78 billion); and Anchorage, Ala. ($31.56 billion).
Gross domestic product is the measurement of a country’s economic output. It is the total market value of all finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a given year. It includes all consumer, investment and government spending and exports, minus the value of imports.
These GDP figures derive from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and were analyzed and presented by John Lamirand, LVEDC’s research specialist.
“When you tell people that the counties of Lehigh and Northampton generated more than $34 billion in economic output in 2013, it may not mean much to a lot of people,” Cunningham said. “But when you add that it’s more than the entire state of Vermont and more than 100 countries in the world, it brings perspective to what is going here.”
Although the region’s GDP took a dip during the Great Recession, previous studies have shown that the Lehigh Valley weathered the recession unusually well. No other major region in Pennsylvania has experienced greater post-recession job growth than the Lehigh Valley.
As of the first quarter of 2015, the Lehigh Valley had 2.81 percent more jobs than it had in December 2007, when the Great Recession began. No other major metropolitan area in Pennsylvania has reached such a high level, and most in the state still have fewer jobs than before the recession.
The $34.3 billion figure is the Lehigh Valley’s “nominal GDP,” which is the total economic output based on current price levels and currency values. The figures measuring the region’s GDP from 2003 to 2013 refer to its “real GDP,” which takes inflation into account to give a more accurate perspective over time.
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