Manufacturing is the largest sector of the local economy, employing over 2,400 people in 2008, followed by Retail Trade at 2,265 and Accommodation & Food Service at 1,973 jobs. Per capita income in Bedford County was $26,707 in 2007, compared with $38,793 for Pennsylvania. Wages in the county vary dramatically by industry.
The industry with the highest average wage in the country is Utilities, at $54,460 for 2008, followed by the State Government, coming in at $47,574. The Construction Industry rounds out the top three with an average wage in Bedford County of $43,594. The average wage in Bedford County is $31,740, coming in over $7,200 less than the same metric for the state of Pennsylvania.
Rural areas often lag state averages, which are buoyed by higher wages in large metropolitan centers. According to the May 2008 Occupational Employment Survey, there are three major industrial sectors where Bedford County wages do outperform the state averages: Protective Service Occupations, Farming, Fishing & Forestry Occupations and Materials Moving Occupations.
Bedford County’s 22,000 plus employees are mainly working for private firms, with over 18,150 in that category. Government employment accounts for over 2,300 jobs, while over 2,000 people are self-employed. Over 59% of the households in Bedford County are married-couple families. As a result, mean household income is much higher at $46,966.
The Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and many other business organizations have been working for decades to insure a bright future for Bedford County with an abundance of well-paying jobs. While the current national economic climate may seem bleak, imagine what the local economy would look like without REI, Bedford Springs, Lampire Biologicals and the many other fine companies that are growing here.