IMAGINE Berks! Year End Update

As we prepare for the new year, we’re reflecting on our key project findings to-date and looking forward to how these insights will drive next steps in the planning process.


Since we began, we have hosted meetings with the Advisory Committee, conducted a county-wide listening tour, participated in several planning meetings with the County team and partners, and conducted interviews. Participants have included industry leaders, small businesses owners, elected officials, and residents. In January we will be hosting a series of Build Sessions — strategy sessions designed to build solutions that take advantage of opportunities on the horizon or that mitigate challenges we’re currently facing in our community.


Overview


Berks County is a highly resilient and competitive economy, particularly as it relates to its growth in population, number of jobs, and GDP. As we develop our Strategic Economic Development Plan, we will leverage our strengths and past successes, while also building solutions to address current challenges. Lastly, we will define strategies to capitalize on existing and future opportunities, building upon our economy’s strong foundation and history of growth.


“Berks is a lovely mix of hometown, rural, and city experiences just minutes from each other.”


Major Themes


Industry

  • Manufacturing remains the single largest sector in Berk’s economy, responsible for 21% of GDP

  • Half of the County’s establishments have 5 or fewer employees

  • Manufacturing and health care have greatest concentration of large establishments (100 or more employees)


Housing

  • Outside of Schuylkill County, Berks County has the oldest housing stock in the region

  • Only 2.6% of all housing units in Berks County were built 2010 or later

  • 25% of all units in Berks County were built in 1939 or earlier


Workforce

  • More than half of all outbound commuters leave Berks county to work in jobs that pay above $40,000

  • Steady: 8,300 Anticipated Associate’s and Bachelor’s graduates in the next decade

  • Declining: 45,030 anticipated high school graduates in the next decade

  • Accelerating: 34,750 anticipated retirees in the next decade


Population Changes

  • Berks County grew faster than expectations, with 4.2% population growth between 2010 and 2020

  • Berks County had inbound migration of 100+ residents from all surrounding counties

  • The city of Reading, Muhlenberg township, and Spring township grew by 10,600, accounting for 60% of population growth of the county from 2010 to 2020


Diversity

  • The Hispanic population grew at more than ten times the overall population growth rate, growing by 48%.

  • Without the gain in Hispanic population, Berks County would have lost 14,800 residents in the last decade

  • Women comprise 41% of the labor force, including 12% who are mothers of school age children

If you’re interested in keeping up to date on the IMAGINE Berks planning process, please make sure you’re signed up to receive updates!