Demographics
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
20002008-122013-17
Pennsylvania8%10%11%
Berks County13%17%18%
Berks County Regions
Central29%40%45%
Northeast7%6%8%
South6%9%10%
Southeast4%4%4%*
West6%8%7%
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
20002008-122013-17
Pennsylvania972,4841,219,6731,328,055
Berks County44,44264,00671,751
Berks County Regions
Central29,01243,84649,970
Northeast4,0273,7134,764
South5,7179,68210,594
Southeast1,8081,8511,956*
West3,5404,9144,469
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%.




INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY