CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - A new report out Tuesday from DeSales University shows the inflation rate in the Lehigh Valley is higher than the national average.

For the first time in over a decade, economist Kamran Afshar conducted the study. In short, it's getting expensive to live in the Lehigh Valley.

"Most of it is due to food prices in our area being higher and they are spearheaded by basically meat and eggs, fish, poultry,” Afshar said. "…and the second aspect is rent and rental costs have become higher in our area."

Both are up at or around 6% in 2019 alone. Nationally, food prices only went up just under 2%, and housing around 3%. So why is our area inflating at a higher rate? "We are becoming a lot more metropolitan then we used to be," Afshar said.

However, that will leave many communities behind.

"So the good news is that the Lehigh Valley is an attractive place to live, the bad news is it's driving up the price of housing," said Alan Jennings, the Executive Director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. "We find people with 60, 70% of their income going to their housing expenses."

"Essentials of life, that you can't do without, all of the sudden are becoming more expensive," Afshar said.

Jennings suggests protecting vulnerable populations might lie in shifting mortgage subsidies. "The marketplace can't produce housing that's affordable for regular people without subsidies. And we just have not been willing to put those subsidies where they need to be," Jennings said.

Afshar says without some action, the problem will only get worse: "It will build on itself. It will be exponential. Rent went up 6% in 2019. If they continue on that path we are looking at a significant change."

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