Community Life

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 79% driving alone to work and another 9% carpooling. A small, but increasing share of residents use public transportation or bike or walk to work. Nearly 31,200 households in Essex County, comprising 11% 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 (24%) and Lynn (22%) were without cars.

In 2017, 86% of households in Essex County have access to the Internet, on par with the state and greater than the national rate of 80%. However, Internet access was considerably lower within certain communities in the region. In Lawrence, only 76% of resident had Internet access in 2017, a decrease of 4 percentage points from the prior year.

The crime rate in Essex County has declined slightly since 2008. In 2017, the rate of reported crimes against people was 7.9 per 1,000 residents, lower than the statewide rate of 9.3, and down from 8.4 in 2016. More notably, the rate of crimes against property was 19 per 1,000 residents in 2017, down from 30 in 2008 and 24 in 2014. The rates of crimes against people and crimes against property in Essex County are a bit lower than the statewide rates, and slightly above the figures in Middlesex County.

At 1.3 arrests per 1,000 residents, the drug-related arrest rate in Essex County in 2017 was similar to the statewide rate of 1.1 during the same year and more than double the rate found in Middlesex County.

The rate of reported victims of domestic violence in Essex County in 2017 was 2.9 per 1,000 residents, even with the rate in 2011 and down slightly from 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 2017, an average of 22 residents per 10,000 were incarcerated in Essex County, greater than the statewide rate of 17, and over 3 times greater than Middlesex County. The recidivism rate in Essex County declined, among inmates released in 2014, 28% 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 64% in the 2016 elections presidential election. The turnout rate in 2016 was similar to previous presidential 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.

Charitable giving has declined in Essex County since 2011. In 2016, Essex County residents contributed 1.4% of their income to charitable organizations, a decrease of 3% since 2011, and lower than the state and national charitable donation rates of 2.0% and 2.3%, respectively.

Over $918 million was spent on travel and tourism in Essex County in 2016, good for $1,180 per county resident. This was an 11% increase for the county since 2006. Essex County's increase since 2006 was slightly higher than the state's. 

In 2017, 88% of days with air quality measurements in Essex County were categorized as good air days, similar to the rate in 2016 and a 20 percentage point increase from 2000. Still, Essex County lags behind Middlesex County (96%) in terms of air quality.

Bachelor's Degree or Higher by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Preterm Births Increasing
Infant Mortality Rate Maintaining
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Decreasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Child Abuse and Neglect Increasing
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Youth Arrests Decreasing
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employment Maintaining
Tourism Spending Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Charitable Contributions Maintaining
Protected Land Not Applicable
Days with Good Air Quality Increasing
Beach Contamination Decreasing
Daily Water Use per Resident Decreasing
Crimes Against People Increasing
Crimes Against Property Increasing
Drug-Related Arrests Maintaining
Reports of Domestic Violence Increasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Recidivism Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Traffic Injuries and Fatalities Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
People 65 or Older Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Increasing
Households by Type Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Gender Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Increasing
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Median Earnings by Occupation by Gender Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County for Work Not Applicable
Employer Size Not Applicable
Self-Employment Revenue Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
Female Enrollment in School Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
Per-Student Spending Increasing
Bullying Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 3 Reading Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 English Language Arts Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Income in Relation to Poverty Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Rate by Household Type Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Households Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Earned Income Tax Credit Participation Maintaining
Economically Disadvantaged Students Increasing
Median Home Value Increasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Homeownership Rates Maintaining
Homeownership Rates by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeless Persons Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Medical Care Expenses Increasing
Prevalence of Children with Asthma Maintaining
Prevalence of Overweight Children Decreasing
Prevalence of Overweight Adults Not Applicable
Diabetes Incidence Decreasing
Chronic Disease Among Older Adults Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Cancer Mortality Rate Decreasing
Heart Disease Mortality Rate Decreasing
Mortality Rate Decreasing
People who Smoke Not Applicable
Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Youth Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Not Applicable
Drug Overdose Mortality Rate Increasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Suicide Rate Maintaining