Essex County is home to over 790,600 residents, with small but fast-growing minority groups, a high proportion of foreign-born residents in some local areas, and an overall aging population. Demographic trends are important to understand because they impact the economy, health care needs and outcomes, what services government and nonprofits provide, and many other local and national concerns. 

Essex County is composed of 34 cities and towns, including the cities of Lynn, Lawrence, Amesbury, Beverly, Gloucester, Haverhill, Methuen, Newburyport, Peabody and Salem. Lynn, Lawrence, Haverhill, Methuen, Peabody and Salem are considered Gateway Cities. Gateway Cities are targeted for increased state investment and have below average incomes and adult education levels and populations between 35,000 and 250,000. Though Lynn, with 94,700 people, and Lawrence, with 80,400, are the largest localities in Essex County, they are not the fastest growing. Lynn’s population has grown 6% since 2000 and Lawrence’s 12%, outpaced by growth in smaller towns such as Middleton, Salisbury and Georgetown.

Lynn and Lawrence are two centers of diversity and immigration, with foreign-born residents making up 35% of Lynn’s population and 39% of Lawrence’s. Lawrence is also home to over 64,000 of the county’s 159,000 Hispanic residents. In 2013-17, 78% of Lawrence residents speak a language other than English at home. Immigration has historically been a key driver of population growth throughout the U.S. and is projected to be increasingly important in the next several decades.

The county’s population overall has grown 9.3% since 2000, similar to the state but below the national rate of growth (16%). Growth was fastest among Hispanic residents (100%), African Americans (75%) and Asians (56%), though the county as a whole remained majority white (79%).

Overall, 16% of the county’s population was foreign-born and 26% spoke a foreign language at home – comparable with state and national rates and a bit below rates in some otherwise similar counties.

Among both sexes, older age brackets have grown more than younger ones since 2000, in line with America’s overall “graying” trend. Among men, the greatest increases were in the age brackets of 60-84 (44%) and 85 or older (72%), along with a 29% increase in the population of women in both of these age brackets. There were much smaller increases in the age brackets of 20-39 for men (2%), and for women under 20 (2%).

The age distribution of a population has major implications for what types of services are needed (schools, health care, etc.), and how they are delivered and paid for. It also matters where people live – in Essex County, about 39% of people 65 or older in the county live alone, which can make it difficult to access services or care. In addition, 12% of Essex County’s population has some type of disability (both rates are similar to state and national rates). 

Most households in Essex County are made up of singles living alone (27%) or married couples without children (28%), followed by married couples with children (21%), similar to state and national proportions. Although singles living with children made up just 11% of all households in Essex County, they accounted for 35% of all families with children under 18. That’s an increase from 26% in 2000, and rates were especially high among some groups (Hispanics – 64%, African Americans – 55%, whites – 36%, Asians – 27%). Female-headed single families made up 78% of the total. Children raised by single parents tend to be poorer and can be at risk for lower educational and life outcomes.

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