Report: Foreign-Born Lehigh Valley Population Outpaces Domestic; Legal Immigration to the Region Prevents Decrease in Population

Without the influx of lawful immigrants into the Lehigh Valley, the area would have experienced a net loss in its population. In a Morning Call report analyzing recently-released Census Bureau statistics, Reporter Eugene Tauber noted that the Lehigh Valley has seen a 0.58% increase in its population since 2017, with 842,913 residents. Tauber, however, looks beyond the total population numbers to “the four components of population change — births, deaths, domestic migration, and international migration. . . . While births have outnumbered deaths in every year except 2015, the number of people moving in and out of the region has fluctuated.” More importantly,

[t]he numbers do tell us that net migration (the number of people moving into an area minus the number of people leaving) has been the force majeure of the region’s growth: the 4,375 people added to the population by net migration was almost 9 times as many as the 500 gained through “natural increase” (number of deaths subtracted from number of births).

When international migration is added to mix, the Lehigh Valley would have lost population, according to the Morning Call, “were it not for international migration outstripping domestic out-migration. The numbers confirm that the region is drawing people from other countries to live, work and study here.”

The international migration is lawful immigration, such as foreign employees sponsored by local companies, students attending the area’s colleges, and others who are immigrating because of a family relationship, or for some other reason, including asylum protection. The report does not appear to account for the significant number of immigrants living in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, without proper documentation to remain in the United States. These numbers, according to estimates, could be in the tens of thousands–increasing exponentially each year.

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