The Lehigh Valley is a fast-growing region in eastern Pennsylvania that covers 726 square miles in Lehigh and Northampton counties. The two-county area consists of the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, 27 boroughs and 32 townships. More than 660,000 people call the region home, but that number is growing by roughly one percent per year. Nestled between some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, the Lehigh Valley features a rich variety of landscapes, including the Blue Mountain to the north, the Delaware River to the east and the South Mountain. The majority of the populated areas are increasing in density. This runs parallel with an increase in diversity, not only of the type of people who live, work, and visit here, but in the growing opportunities – and challenges – that impact our quality of life.
We'll use a theoretical group of ten friends to paint a portrait of the Lehigh Valley and its residents.
Our sample group represents typical demographics, so it’s made up of five men and five women. Two of us are under 18 and two are over 65 years old. Six of us fall somewhere in the middle, however trends indicate we are aging as a population.
Of our friends, eight are white, one is black and one is of another race. Two of our ten friends identify as Hispanic or Latin-American, a group that has grown significantly in the region in the past 25 years.
About half of us are urban dwellers, roughly three of us live in suburbs and two of us prefer a rural lifestyle.
Many of us have lived in the region long-term while some of us are part of an increasing number of migrants to the area. Nearly 36,000 people, or 5.5% of our population, moved into the region between 2011-2015 (U.S. Census).
From 2001-2010 (REMI data), we saw an increase in population of 10.9%. This falls somewhere between the growth of other regions of similar size from 2000-2010 (U.S. Census): Boston (4.6%); Charleston (21.1%);and Colorado Springs (20.1%).
Because we are within 90 miles of seven metropolitan regions in the eastern U.S., including Philadelphia and New York City, we have increased opportunities in areas such as tourism and employment. Two of us travel beyond the region for our jobs each day. Half of our ten friends represent those who are working. Many of them work in the healthcare profession, which is not only the region’s largest employer, but it’s growing fast. The unemployment rate in the Valley is 5% compared to 4.4% nationally (August 2017). Our median income, at roughly $58,500, is higher than the state and national median. Eight of us are high school graduates and three have a bachelor's degree.
Seven of us live with our families, including five of us who are married. The average family size is three. Two of the three of us who live alone are women. Based on population projections, we will grow to nearly 13 people by 2040.