What does this measure?
The percentage change of residents within a geographic area, broken down by racial and ethnic groups.
Why is this important?
Population measures provide insight on the changing size and face of communities. The racial and ethnic composition of a community can offer insight into its levels of diversity, which can bring with it challenges and opportunities.
How is our county doing?
Essex County has grown far more diverse since 2000. Its Hispanic population grew the fastest, 123%, from about 79,900 residents in 2000 to 178,300 in 2017-21. The African American population increased 90%, from 18,800 to 35,700, and the Asian population grew 63%, from 16,900 to 27,600. The white population decreased 3% and still makes up a large majority, with 607,400 residents.
Massachusetts experienced similar changes, but compared to Essex, it had smaller increases in its Hispanic and African American populations (102% and 49%, respectively) and a larger increase in its Asian population (102%). Racial and ethnic minority populations also increased at the national level, but at a slower pace than either Essex or Massachusetts. Unlike the County or state, the U.S. also experienced an 6% increase in the white population during this period.
While white residents were the largest racial group in every municipality in Essex County in 2017-21, some places were more diverse than others. Lawrence is a particular center for the Hispanic population: with about 72,200 Hispanic residents (who may be of any race, including white; see note below), the City accounted for approximately 41% of all Hispanic residents in Essex County. Lynn accounted for nearly 23% of the County's Hispanic population.
How do we compare to similar counties?
No comparison county had an increase in Hispanic population as large as Essex between 2000 and 2017-21. Only Middlesex, MA was close, with an 102% increase, followed by Westchester, NY (75%) and Lake, IL (72%). Middlesex's growth in its African American population (69%) was closest to Essex, and increases were substantially smaller in Westchester (11%) and Lake (7%). Compared to Essex, there were larger increases in the Asian population in both Lake (134%) and Middlesex (125%), and less growth for this group in Westchester (47%). All counties saw decreases in white population (3% to 9%).
Why do these disparities exist?
The composition of the U.S. population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse as people of color grow in representation and will be a majority within the next two decades. Latino, Asian and multiracial groups are experiencing the largest growth with Latino's rapid increase caused largely by immigration. Latino immigrants who enter the U.S. tend to be younger and of child-bearing age. Latinas in the U.S. have higher fertility rates than Black and white women. Black, Latino and multiracial populations are also experiencing higher rates of births relative to deaths, while whites are experiencing the opposite.
Notes about the data
Rate is percentage change from 2000. The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.
The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.