Lancaster, a city of 60,000, is the largest city in the Lancaster metropolitan area, a district with a population over just over half a million residents. The historic city was first chartered in 1681 as part of Penn's Woods; interestingly, the first paved road in the United States was the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, which opened in 1795.
From its earlier economic roots in agriculture and industry (Lancaster was home to Armstrong World Industries for many years), the town is recasting itself as a tourist destination and upscale shopping and arts mecca. The Lancaster Central Market, featuring Amish goods, is the oldest farmers market still in operation in the country.
Those seeking jobs in Lancaster, PA will find a lower than average cost of living. According to Forbes, Lancaster is 2.4 percent below the national average. The median home price is just $164,900, well below the national median of $181,400. Household income is $54,300, just slightly above the national median of $53,046.
Lancaster Job Opportunities
Most Lancaster jobs are in the healthcare sector; the city's largest employer is Lancaster General Hospital with just over 7,100 employees. RR Donnelly, a print and production company, employs approximately 2,700 persons. Rounding out the city's largest employers are County of Lancaster (2,100 employees), School District of Lancaster (1,600 employees), and Dart Container (1,585 employees).
Those looking for jobs in Lancaster might find good opportunities in art and design. Gallery Row, which opened in 2005, is attracting a growing number of galleries and boutiques. Service and hospitality jobs are also increasing as Lancaster revitalizes its downtown area with upscale restaurants and bars. Search for jobs in Hershey, home of Hershey Park, for more diverse employment opportunities.
Lancaster Employment Trends
The unemployment rate as of July 2014 was just 4.6 percent, well below the national rate. However, job growth in 2013 was an anemic 0.8 percent, although it is expected to increase to 1.8 percent by the end of 2014, according to Forbes. Forbes ranks Lancaster jobs growth at number 147 and at 195th for business and careers. Tourism is expected to experience greater than average growth in the coming years, bringing more Lancaster, PA jobs in the travel sector.
As part of the downtown revitalization and greater tourism growth, opportunities for retail jobs in Lancaster will continue to grow. Sales jobs, notably in specialty retail outlets, are also expected to grow at a good rate.