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Lehigh Valley GDP Grew to Record $43.3 Billion in 2019

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on December 10, 2020

Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product soared to $43.3 billion in 2019, the region’s largest single-year economic output, just before the COVID pandemic sent the economy into a recession in early 2020.

The Lehigh Valley’s private-sector economic output in 2019 increased 5.7% over 2018 and outpaced Pennsylvania’s 4% growth, according to figures released Dec. 9 by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

“The Lehigh Valley continued its incredible renaissance with strength and balance across diverse economic sectors last year,” said Don Cunningham, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) President and CEO. “While next year’s numbers will reflect the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall balance of the Lehigh Valley economy remains strong and is allowing us to weather the downturn in some areas with growth in others.”

GDP measures total market value of the goods and services produced over a year. The results for the metro region include Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon and Warren counties.

Lehigh Valley’s economy ranks 65th among the 384 metropolitan areas in the United States and is larger than the GDP of Vermont ($29.1 billion), Wyoming ($33.8 billion) and Alaska ($42.8 billion), according to the BEA.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see the continued growth of manufacturing output,” Cunningham said. “The Lehigh Valley has a long and rich history of manufacturing, which today’s manufacturers uphold. The sector’s output of more than $7 billion in 2019 ranked 52nd among U.S. markets, more than 10 places higher than our overall ranking.”

The region’s economy continues to show balance among the four biggest contributing sectors. The largest output was from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector at $7.8 billion, a 3.2% increase, followed by Manufacturing ($7.1 billion), Health Care and Education ($6.4 billion), and Professional and Business Services ($5.4 billion).

The Health Care and Education sector – which includes several of the Lehigh Valley’s largest employers – grew by 5.4%. The Professional and Business Services sector grew by 7.7%.

Regional GDP increased from an adjusted $41 billion in 2018 to $43.3 billion in 2019, according to BEA. Figures from 2018 may be different than previously reported because BEA continually adjusts its data to account for new information and projections.

LVEDC bases Lehigh Valley GDP upon private sector economic data and does not include government spending. If government spending were added, the regional GDP would increase to $47.2 billion.

Regional GDP for 2020 won’t be released until next December, but national quarterly GDP data provide some indications of how Lehigh Valley’s economy could be been impacted. The national GDP in 2020 fell by 5% in the first quarter and 31% in the second quarter but climbed to 33% in the third quarter.

Don Cunningham: Pandemic is This Generation’s Catalyst for Economic, Social Changes

This column, written by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in The Morning Call and on the newspaper's website on December 2, 2020. (Click here to re[...]

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$41.2 Billion

2018 Gross Domestic Product

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City Center Lehigh Valley
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10.6% of Labor Force
Employed in Manufacturing

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Lehigh Valley Health Network
By the Numbers
$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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Lehigh Valley Electricians
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$65,119

Median Household Income

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PPL Electric Utilities
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672,907

Population

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Olympus
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358,000

Labor Force

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26.1% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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5,073

Technology Patents

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Mack Trucks
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UGI
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Magestic Realty Co
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NFI
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14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

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Wells Fargo
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$7.3 Billion

Manufacturing Contribution to GDP

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BB&T
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69th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population

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Key Bank
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10,754 degrees awarded by Lehigh Valley colleges (2017-18 academic year)

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St. Lukes University Health Network
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85,000 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

By the Numbers
149,000

Population between ages 18 and 34

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