The Local Economy Center at Franklin & Marshall College and RedesignReading.org recently released their 2014 Reading Economic Report. Using series of data and various charts, the report offers an in-depth look into the economic state of Greater Reading, including key demographics information, trends in specific industries, and the most prominent challenges and opportunities in our region.

In this 3-part blog series, we’re covering the most important aspects of this report. Our goals are to help our community’s population understand the current state of Greater Reading’s economy and embrace the role we all play in impacting its future growth and development.

Economic Trends in Greater Reading

Greater Reading and Berks County are unique among other nearby regions in PA, primarily through their industry concentration and structure. Additional noteworthy economic trends include:

The distribution of manufacturing in Greater Reading, PA.

  • While comparatively smaller than other sectors, the manufacturing industry has rebounded significantly since the recession
  • Construction grew quickly prior to the recession and is slowly recovering from a significant drop during 2007-2009
  • The healthcare industry in Berks County has seen larger growth when compared to nearby areas
  • Berks County has a high concentration of electronics, appliances, and primary metals manufacturers compared to Lancaster, Lehigh, and York counties.

Trends in the Greater Reading Workforce

Along with the City of York, Reading’s workforce suffered during the economic recession in 2008. This trend is consistent across nearly all ethnic and age groups. Some other trends for the Greater Reading and Berks County workforce include:

  • During the recession, labor force participation among all races and age groups (except residents ages 65-74) declined
  • Though the average unemployment rate in Reading and Berks County has started to decline, it is higher than the rest of PA and the nation as a whole
  • Young people (ages 16-24) are the greatest concentration of unemployed citizens in the city of Reading

These combined trends of high unemployment and opportunities among specific industry sectors throughout Reading and Berks County can provide a foundation for future economic development efforts. As local organizations and policymakers strive to address the future of Greater Reading, it will be important to utilize its skilled production and manufacturing-based workforce as well as other key competitive advantages to build a functional, successful economic environment.

Have questions about Greater Reading’s economic state? Leave yours in the comments!

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