What does this measure?
The percentage of the population in a region that is foreign-born, which includes anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. People who become U.S. citizens through naturalization are considered foreign-born.
Why is this important?
Foreign-born Americans and their descendants have historically been a main driver of population growth, and that role will only increase in the future. According to the Pew Research Center, new immigrants and their children and grandchildren accounted for 55% of the U.S. population increase from 193 million in 1965 to 324 million in 2015. Pew projects the population will grow to 441 million in 2065 and that 88% of the increase is linked to future immigrants and their descendants. This measure also is a reflection of the composition of a community, which can offer insight into its levels of diversity.
How is our county doing?
In 2017-21, 18% of the population in Essex County and 17% the state was foreign-born, slightly higher than the national rate of 14%. Essex County had the largest increase since 2000, increasing 7 percentage points, while the state and nation increased by 5 and 3 points, respectively.
Within Essex County, the cities of Lawrence (41%) and Lynn (35%) had by far the largest proportions of foreign-born residents, followed by Methuen (23%), and Peabody and Salem (16% and 14% respectively). Lynn and Lawrence also had the two greatest increases in rate since 2000 of 12 and 10 percentage points, respectively.
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County had the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents in 2017-21. Westchester, NY had the largest share, at 25%, followed by Middlesex, MA at 22% and Lake, IL at 19%. All comparison counties had an increase in foreign-born residents. Essex and Middlesex had the greatest increases since 2000, gaining 7 percentage points each, while Westchester and Lake both increased by 3 and 4 points respectively.
Notes about the data
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. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.