Reading ( RED-ing; Pennsylvania German: Reddin) is a city in and the county seat of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States. With a population of 95,112 as of the 2020 census, it is the fourth-largest city in Pennsylvania. Located in the southeastern part of the state, it is the principal city of the Greater Reading Area, home to 420,152 residents, and is furthermore included in the greater Delaware Valley. The city, which is approximately halfway between the state's most populous city, Philadelphia, and the state capital, Harrisburg, is strategically situated along a major transportation route from Central to Eastern Pennsylvania, and lent its name to the now-defunct Reading Railroad, which transported anthracite coal from the Pennsylvania Coal Region to the eastern United States via the Port of Philadelphia. Reading Railroad is one of the four railroad properties in the classic United States version of the Monopoly board game. Reading was one of the first localities where outlet shopping became a tourist industry. It has been known as "The Pretzel City", because of numerous local pretzel bakeries; currently, Bachman, Dieffenbach, Tom Sturgis, and Unique Pretzel bakeries call the Reading area home. In recent years, the Reading area has become a destination for cyclists. With more than 125 miles of trails in five major preserves, it is an International Mountain Bicycling Association Ride Center.According to 2010 Census Bureau data, Reading had the highest share of citizens living in poverty in the nation for cities with populations of more than 65,000. Reading's poverty rate fell over the next decade. Reading's poverty rate in the 2018 five-year American Community Survey showed that 35.4% of the city's residents were below the poverty line, or less "than the infamous 41.3% from 2011, when Reading was declared the poorest small city in the nation."
Schuylkill County (, locally ) is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2020 census, the population was 143,049. The county seat is Pottsville. The county was created on March 1, 1811, from parts of Berks and Northampton counties and named for the Schuylkill River, which originates in the county. On March 3, 1818, additional territory in its northeast was added from Columbia and Luzerne counties.Schuylkill County comprises the Pottsville, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located in the heart of the anthracite Coal Region of eastern Pennsylvania.
The Lehigh Valley (), known officially by the United States Census Bureau and the United States Office of Management and Budget as the Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area and referred to colloquially as The Valley, is a metropolitan region officially consisting of Carbon, Lehigh, and Northampton counties in eastern Pennsylvania and Warren County in northwestern New Jersey. The Lehigh Valley's largest city, with a population of 125,845 residents as of the 2020 U.S. Census, is Allentown. Within the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh and Northampton Counties are part of Philadelphia's designated media market, Warren County is part of New York City's media market, and Carbon County belongs to the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton-Hazleton media market. The Lehigh Valley is the third most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state of Pennsylvania with a population of 861,889 residents as of the 2020 U.S. Census, a 4.95% increase from the 821,173 residents in the 2010 U.S. Census. The region is surpassed in total population in Pennsylvania only by the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas. It is the 70th most populated metropolitan area in the United States. Lehigh County, the Valley's largest county in terms of overall population, is among the fastest growing in the state and, as of 2010–2012, ranks in the 79th percentile for population growth nationally. Lehigh County is also in the top 1% of all U.S. counties nationwide for inward migration from international locations, according to a Select USA, a program of the U.S. Commerce Department. The Lehigh Valley as a whole leads the state of Pennsylvania in terms of population growth in the 18-to-34 year old demographic according to 2020 Census data.The region's core population centers are located in southern and central Lehigh and Northampton counties along U.S. Route 22, Pennsylvania Route 309, Interstate 476, and Interstate 78. The Lehigh Valley is centrally located in the Northeast Megalopolis with ease of access and close proximity to several of the largest markets, population centers, airports, terminals, railways and seaports in the United States, including two of the nation's largest cities: New York City, which is about 65 miles to its east, and Philadelphia, which is 50 miles to its southeast. Harrisburg, the capital city of Pennsylvania, is roughly 80 miles to the southwest of the Lehigh Valley. The region is also situated within a one-day drive to more than one-third of the total population of the United States and more than one-half of the total population of Canada, which, combined with its lower cost of living, supportive economic environment, robust infrastructure, and diversified labor pool, is a significant contributing factor for its flourishing warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, E-commerce, and distribution industries and why it is sometimes referred to as the nation's "second Inland Empire" for freight. The region is serviced by the Lehigh Valley International Airport which has seen steady growth in passenger traffic and rapid growth in the transportation of air cargo where, as of 2020, it flies more than 210 million pounds of cargo annually with an increase of nearly 166% in cargo tonnage shipped between 2015 and 2016 alone. As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Amtrak has also proposed adding a new Allentown-to-New York City train route for passenger traffic.The Lehigh Valley's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 was US$43,800,000,000 ($43.8 billion), driven heavily by strong manufacturing, health care, finance, and professional services industry components. It is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in Pennsylvania with a 5% increase in GDP between 2016 and 2017 alone. The median household income for the region increased from US$57,288 to US$62,507 between 2015 and 2019 and the unemployment rate, as of July 2019, was 3.9%. The balanced Lehigh Valley economy includes advanced manufacturers, especially those in life sciences, that have driven the region to become the nation’s 52nd largest manufacturing economy and made it among the nation’s busiest industrial markets, according to 2020 Census data.In 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, and again in 2020, the Lehigh Valley was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the one of the top 5 best performing regions of its size (up to 1,000,000 residents) for economic development in the country and the best performing region in the entire Northeastern United States. It was also ranked by Fortune in May 2015 as being among the top 10 best places in the U.S. to locate corporate finance and information technology operations for companies, such as call centers and IT support. Allentown, the region's largest city, was cited as a "national success story" in April 2016 by the Urban Land Institute for its downtown redevelopment and transformation that has resulted in US$1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) worth of new development projects there between 2015 and 2018 alone, one of only six communities nationwide of any size to have achieved this distinction.