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The New York Times Again Highlights Lehigh Valley Economy

By Colin McEvoy on May 28, 2021

The Lehigh Valley continues to generate national media attention, with a front-page story in The New York Times drawing attention to the growth of logistics and e-commerce in the region, while also noting the diversified nature of the Lehigh Valley economy.

The May 26 article is just the latest in a string of stories about the Lehigh Valley from national publications in the past 12 months from such outlets as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, PBS NewsHour, Los Angeles Times, CBS News Sunday Morning, USA Today, and more.

The story was featured on the front page of The New York Times on May 26, 2021. (image courtesy The New York Times)

It is also the third time The New York Times has written about the Lehigh Valley economy in the last 18 months. The outlet also penned a story about the region’s economic revitalization in January 2020, and included the Lehigh Valley in a January 2021 story about its “Favorite Facts for 2020.”

The latest Times story, written by business and finance reporter Michael Corkery, focuses particular attention on e-commerce and logistics, but also highlights the important role of manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley, as well as the growth of health care and education in the region.

The full story can be found online here, and was featured on the front page of the May 26 print edition of The New York Times.

Corkery writes that the e-commerce boom is driven by the growth of e-commerce retailers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Lehigh Valley’s access to markets and proximity to major metropolitan areas like New York City and Philadelphia. The story notes that the region is within a day’s truck drive of about 30% of American consumers.

The story addresses both benefits and challenges related to the growth of e-commerce in the Lehigh Valley. It covered local concerns with increased truck traffic and questions of long-term job security in the sector, while also pointing out that distribution centers have increased tax revenues for municipalities and school districts and provided good-paying job opportunities for low-skilled workers.

“If you were to turn away this economic opportunity for a whole sector of workers, where do they go?” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), who is quoted in the story.

“… To be able to make $16 an hour with a high school diploma, there aren’t a lot of places in the U.S. where you can do that,” Cunningham said. “This is a really nice sector for low-skilled workers. It at least gives them a fighting chance to carve out a livable wage.”

David Jaindl, President of Jaindl Farms & Land Company, noted in the story that the Lehigh Valley’s logistics and e-commerce sector played a vital role during the pandemic, helping facilitate the distribution of food across the Northeast. The Lehigh Valley still has a large manufacturing base, Jaindl said, and the high demand for houses and hotels reflects the regional economy’s strength beyond industrial buildings.

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Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$43.3 Billion

2020 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
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$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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Lehigh Valley Electricians
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$66,865

Median Household Income

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PPL Electric Utilities
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676,700

Population

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Olympus
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347,612

Labor Force

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26.6% 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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$7.1 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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82,270 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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149,000

Population between ages 18 and 34

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