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Lehigh Valley population to grow by nearly 100,000 by 2050, LVPC says

LVPC Banquet Bradley
Olivia Marble
Executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Becky Bradley presents at the LVPC's Lehigh Valley Outlook and Awards Banquet.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The Lehigh Valley’s growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon, and could add nearly 100,000 people in the next 30 years, according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

But the growth could be accompanied by challenges, officials said.

  • The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission projects the population in the Lehigh Valley will grow by 100,000 by 2050
  • Executive Director of the LVPC Becky Bradley said the population is growing because the Lehigh Valley “has been discovered,” and people have realized how great it is
  • Bradley said there will be challenges that come with this growth

The LVPC presented population projections Tuesday during its ninth Annual Lehigh Valley Outlook and Awards Banquet. It says the valley’s population will swell by nearly 100,000 by 2050.
The valley had a total population of 687,508 as of the 2020 U.S. census, meaning the jump would be a 14% increase.

221115 LVPC Banquet Population Data.jpg
Olivia Marble
The LVPC presentation featured a slide showing a projected population growth of 100,000 in the Lehigh Valley by 2050.

LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley said she thinks the region’s population is growing while other regions are shrinking because people have realized how great the Lehigh Valley is.

“The Lehigh Valley has kind of been discovered,” Bradley said. “So that's going to lead to challenges of growth of all sorts… and the only way to work through that is to work together.”

“The Lehigh Valley has kind of been discovered. So that's going to lead to challenges of growth of all sorts… and the only way to work through that is to work together.”
Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission

Bradley said the population growth will bring many challenges the valley will need to overcome. For example, she said, local leaders will need to work to preserve farmland, control development, improve the road systems and increase capacity in schools.

The best way to face those challenges is “balance, balance, balance, balance and more balance,” Bradley said. Some areas of the region need to encourage industrial growth, for example, and others need to work to decrease it, she said.

Other data takeaways

At the event, LVPC also presented data on greenhouse gas emissions, employment, transportation and housing.

The organization did a greenhouse gas emission inventory and found the Lehigh Valley's gross greenhouse gas emissions for 2019 was 9.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — 3.7% of Pennsylvania's total statewide emissions.

221115 LVPC Banquet Emissions Data.jpg
Olivia Marble
A graph of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions for each sector of the Lehigh Valley.

The full greenhouse gas inventory document will be published in December, Bradley said.

According to the data, 2022 likely will be a record year for new developments in the region. If the trends continue, Lehigh County can expect to have more than 300 plan submissions by the end of the year, and Northampton County can expect more than 260 the most since 2008.

Chief Community and Regional Planner Steve Neratko said this year, 80% of the 19 million square feet of non-residential proposed projects were for warehouses and distribution centers.

“Yes, we've seen a lot of warehouse proposals, and yes, we think that'll continue in the near term,” Neratko said.

Neratko said in the face of the region’s housing shortage, 2022 is expected to be the second record-breaking year in a row for new housing developments. There was a reduction in single-family detached units proposed this year and a “tremendous” increase in apartment proposals, Neratko said.

If the trends continue, the LVPC will review about 200 more apartments and nearly double the number of townhouses than it did in 2021.

Neratko said that while the LVPC expects the rising interest rates will cause the development market to plateau, it doesn’t expect the reviews to slow down.


At the event, Easton was chosen the 2022 Lehigh Valley Community of Distinction. The award is given to municipalities for the quality of their planning and design.

The event also was host for the ceremony for the 2022 Future Heroes of the Lehigh Valley, an award that celebrates a group of young people who are making a difference in the region.

Lehigh Gap Nature Center’s Color of Nature Interns Sherlyn Martinez and Donna Hanna received the award for their work at the center.