Transportation, safety, amenities like the arts and the environment all contribute to the quality of life in Essex County. Available data show a lack of transportation options to be a major challenge, while crime has been declining.
The vast majority of residents of Essex County drive to work, with 80% driving alone to work and another 10% carpooling. A small, but increasing share of residents use public transportation or bike or walk to work. About 31,600 households in Essex County, comprising 10% of the county’s total, do not own a car. This is a lower rate than the state as a whole (at 12%), but still concerning given challenges with public transportation in the county. More than 1 in 5 households in Lawrence (25%) and Lynn (18%) were without cars.
In 2017-21, 89% of households in Essex County have access to the Internet, similar to the state and nation. However, Internet access was considerably lower within certain communities in the region. In Lawrence, only 77% of residents had Internet access in 2017-21.
The crime rate in Essex County has declined slightly since 2012. In 2021, the rate of reported crimes against people was 9.0 per 1,000 residents, lower than the statewide rate of 10.6. More notably, the rate of crimes against property was 15 per 1,000 residents in 2021, down from 26 in 2012 and a 21% decline from 2020. The rates of crimes against people in Essex County are a bit lower than the statewide rates, and slightly above the figures in Middlesex County.
At 1.1 arrests per 1,000 residents, the drug-related arrest rate in Essex County in 2021 was higher than the statewide rate of 0.8 during the same year, while Lawrence was triple the rate (3.8).
The rate of reported victims of domestic violence in Essex County in 2021 was 3.3 per 1,000 residents, similar to the prior year. While lower than the statewide figure, the rate of domestic violence in Essex County has been higher than the rate in Middlesex County.
In 2021, an average of 14 residents per 10,000 were incarcerated in Essex County, down from 24 in 2014 but greater than the statewide rate of 9. The recidivism rate in Essex County declined, among inmates released in 2016, 32% returned to prison within 3 years, down from 42% of inmates released in 2009. The decline in Essex County matches a statewide figure over the same time period.
Voter participation was 68% in the 2020 Presidential election. The turnout rate in 2020 was higher than previous elections since 2000. Voter participation in the county over the past two elections is similar to Middlesex County and a bit higher than the statewide figure.
In 2020 Essex County residents contributed 0.9% of their income to charitable organizations, lower than the state and national charitable donation rates of 1.5% each. The rate of giving has declined in the county, state and nation over the last decade.
Over $1 billion was spent on travel and tourism in Essex County in 2019, good for $1,390 per county resident. This was a 19% increase for the county since 2006. Essex County's increase since 2006 was slightly higher than Middlesex and similar to the State's.
In 2021, 89% of days with air quality measurements in Essex County were categorized as good air days, slightly lower than the rate in 2020 and a 20 percentage point increase from 2000. Still, Essex County lags behind Middlesex County (93%) in terms of air quality.