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The Economic Dynamics of Lehigh Valley

By LVEDC Staff on April 1, 2014

LVEDC logo smallEDITOR’S NOTE: The following is taken from the recently published Competitive Realities report that was created by Jay Garner of Garner Economics of Atlanta, Ga. This segment covers the “Economic Dynamics” of our region as compared to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, the combined counties of Forsyth and Guilford in North Carolina, the commonwealth and the nation.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most comprehensive measure of economic activity or output. GDP for metro areas is derived as the sum of the GDP originating in all the industries in the area. GDP for metro areas is only available for the years 2001-2012.

Getting granular

Over the last 10 years, real GDP in Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton increased by $1.4 billion or 5.7 percent, a rate below all but the Winston-Salem metro.

Measured in per capita terms, at $32,887 in 2012, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton has a lower relative amount of economic activity than the benchmark metros, the state, and the nation.

Over the last 10 years, real per capita GDP in Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton declined by $1,247 or 3.3 percent, while over the last five years, real per capita GDP declined by $19 or 0.1 percent.

Lehigh Valley’s average wage per job is 8.1 percent below the nation, 3.2 percent below the state, and 13.8 percent below Allegheny County.

After adjusting for inflation, over the last 10 years, growth in real values of the average wage per job in Lehigh Valley has increased by 3.6 percent ($1,231). In the last five years, it has declined by 0.1 percent (-$37). The pace is below the nation, state, and one benchmark community.

Lehigh Valley’s per capita income is 3.7 percent below the nation, 5.6 percent below the state, and 21.8 percent below Allegheny County.

Over the last 10 years, growth in real values for the per capita income in Lehigh Valley has increased by 2 percent ($604) and in the last five years by 0.4 percent ($111). The pace is below the nation, state, and one benchmark community.

In per capita terms, at $3,553, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton exports are below the nation and two benchmark metros.

From 2005 to 2012, per capita exports increased 95.4 percent in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro—a rate that is above the nation, state, and two benchmark metros.

As of 2011, proprietors accounted for 17.2 percent of total employment in Lehigh Valley—a rate below the nation and state but above both benchmark communities.

Over the last 10 years, the number of proprietors in Lehigh Valley has increased by 37.4 percent, outpacing all but Forsyth/Guilford.

In 2011, per capita income for nonfarm proprietors in Lehigh Valley was $25,978. The amount is below the state, nation, and both benchmark communities.

Lehigh Valley has a higher proportion of employment in Transportation and Warehousing and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation.

Over year 2012, total employment in Lehigh Valley is up on average 2.1 percent or 5,693 more jobs. The pace is above the nation, state, and both benchmark communities.

Recession losses were not severe in Lehigh Valley, with the greatest losses at -4.2 percent, or 11,716 fewer jobs, which is a pace less than what was experienced in the nation, state, and one benchmark.

The average unemployment rate over the last year in Lehigh Valley has averaged 8.3 percent (representing 28,554 unemployed persons). The rate is below the nation, state, and one benchmark community.

At 101.8, the composite Cost-of-Living Index score in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro is above both benchmark communities.

Measured as the percent of households that have availability to select broadband offerings, Lehigh Valley places well, ranking highest or second highest in comparison to the nation, state, and both benchmark communities.

NEXT WEEK: A look at Local Specialization, Competitiveness & Growth.

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