Foreign-Born Population

Foreign-Born Population

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 2013-17, 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 16%. This was up 7 percentage points from 2000. In the other regions, foreign-born residents represented 5% or less of the population, representing increases of 1 to 2 percentage points since 2000. In the City of Reading, the foreign-born population in 2013-17 was 19%, up 9 percentage points from 2000.

Among neighboring counties, there were smaller foreign-born populations in Schuylkill (2%) and Lebanon (4%), while Lancaster (5%) was closer to Berks. There were larger foreign-born populations in Chester (9%), Montgomery (11%) and Lehigh (11%). The largest increases in this population from 2000 to 2012-16 were in Montgomery, Chester and Lehigh (up 4, 4, and 5 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
Berks County4%7%7%
Berks County Regions
Reading city10%18%19%
Berks County Peers
Chester County5%9%9%
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
Berks County16,03227,67529,542
Berks County Regions
Reading city8,51615,97416,664
Berks County Peers
Chester County23,77043,69848,461
Lancaster County15,03722,73026,202
Lebanon County2,9074,8545,255
Lehigh County19,33134,55539,011
Montgomery County52,15277,06487,284
Schuylkill County1,5002,6272,761

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%.