Language Diversity

Language Diversity

What does this measure?

The share of people 5 and older in a geographic area who speak a language other than English at home. This includes both people who speak English well and those who do not.

Why is this important?

Language diversity can indicate a growing bilingual or multilingual population. It may also indicate a need for language instruction or bilingual services and communication.

How is our county performing?

In 2013-17, 18% of Berks County residents spoke a language other than English at home, up 5 percentage points since 2000. This was higher than Pennsylvania, at 11%, but less than the U.S., at 21%. Both the state and nation had slightly smaller increases than Berks during this period.

Within the county, the largest percentage of residents who spoke a language other than English at home was highest by far in the Central region, at 45%, up 16 percentage points since 2000. Other regions ranged from 4% to 10%, while the percentage in the Southeast was too small to make accurate comparisons. In the City of Reading, over half of residents spoke a language other than English at home, up 19 percentage points since 2000.

Compared to Berks County, there were lower rates in Schuylkill (5%), Lebanon (12%), Chester (12%), and Montgomery (13%) counties. The percentage was similar to Berks in Lancaster (17%) and higher in Lehigh (23%). Most counties saw increases in this population since 2000 that were smaller than Berks (1 percentage point for Schuylkill, 3 percentage points for Chester and 4 percentage points for Lancaster, Lebanon, and Montgomery), with the exception of Lehigh, which increased 8 percentage points.

Notes about 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.

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

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.

Language Diversity
United States18%21%21%
Berks County13%17%18%
Berks County Regions
Reading city36%50%55%
Berks County Peers
Chester County9%12%12%
Lancaster County13%15%17%
Lebanon County8%10%12%
Lehigh County15%22%23%
Montgomery County10%12%14%
Schuylkill County4%5%5%

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 People who Speak a Language Other Than English at Home
United States46,951,59559,384,76364,221,193
Berks County44,44264,00671,751
Berks County Regions
Reading city27,06339,67544,778
Berks County Peers
Chester County35,41455,70758,915
Lancaster County57,46874,99283,439
Lebanon County9,03912,60415,525
Lehigh County44,79571,47079,362
Montgomery County67,60093,537104,684
Schuylkill County6,4116,3926,223

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%.

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Decreasing
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
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
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
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 Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Decreasing
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 Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing