Demographics
Foreign-Born Population


Foreign-Born Population

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What does this measure?

The percentage of the population in a region that is foreign-born, which includes anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. People who become U.S. citizens through naturalization are considered foreign-born.

Why is this important?

Foreign-born Americans and their descendants have historically been a main driver of population growth, and that role will only increase in the future. According to the Pew Research Center, new immigrants and their children and grandchildren accounted for 55% of the U.S. population increase from 1965 to 2015, from 193 million to 324 million. Pew projects the population will grow to 441 million in 2065, and 88% of the increase is linked to future immigrants and their descendants. This measure also is a reflection of the composition of a community, which can offer insight into its levels of diversity.

How is our county performing?

In 2014-18, 7% of Berks County's population was foreign-born, up 3 percentage points from 2000. This was similar to Pennsylvania, at 7%, and less than the nation, at 13%.

Within the county, the Central region had the highest rate of foreign-born residents at 17%. This was up 8 percentage points from 2000. In the other regions, foreign-born residents represented 5% or less of the population and is largely unchanged since 2000. In the City of Reading, the foreign-born population in 2014-18 was 20%, up 10 percentage points from 2000.

Among neighboring counties, there were smaller foreign-born populations in Schuylkill (2%), Lebanon (4%), and Lancaster (5%). There were larger foreign-born populations in Chester (10%), Montgomery (11%) and Lehigh (11%). The largest increases in this population from 2000 to 2014-18 were in Lehigh, Montgomery, and Chester (up 5, 4, and 4 percentage points respectively), with the other counties increasing by 2 percentage points or less in the same time period.

Notes on the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Foreign-Born Population
20002009-132014-18
United States11%13%13%
Pennsylvania4%6%7%
Berks County4%7%7%
Berks County Regions
Central9%15%17%
Northeast2%2%*3%*
South3%5%6%
Southeast2%2%*2%*
West2%3%3%
Reading city10%18%20%
Berks County Peers
Chester County5%9%10%
Lancaster County3%4%5%
Lebanon County2%4%4%
Lehigh County6%10%11%
Montgomery County7%10%11%
Schuylkill County1%2%2%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




Number of Foreign-Born People
20002009-132014-18
United States31,107,88940,341,89843,539,499
Pennsylvania508,291759,837865,720
Berks County16,03228,13631,086
Berks County Regions
Central9,26618,09719,806
Northeast1,1431,143*1,791*
South3,2136,0256,335
Southeast831941*1,289*
West1,2931,9301,869
Reading city8,51615,77117,233
Berks County Peers
Chester County23,77045,15749,664
Lancaster County15,03723,49227,089
Lebanon County2,9074,8965,636
Lehigh County19,33134,62041,579
Montgomery County52,15278,15488,685
Schuylkill County1,5002,8762,637

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Maintaining
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households by type Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Seniors Living Alone Decreasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
Employment to Population ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Receiving Supplemental Security Income Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Increasing
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Toxic Chemical Releases Decreasing
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing