Essex County’s economy has rebounded to a degree from the depths of the national recession of 2008-09 and several key sectors are gaining jobs, but salaries have only kept pace with inflation.
Total jobs increased 11% from 2000 to 2014 to 435,000. That rate of growth is similar to the nation, a bit higher than the state and above Essex County’s comparable counties, except for Westchester, NY, which gained 14% in total jobs.
Growing sectors in Essex County include Financial Activities, which increased 49% in total jobs from 2001 to 2014, Healthcare and Social Assistance (43%) and Leisure and Hospitality (23%) sectors. The biggest decline among major sectors was in Manufacturing, where jobs fell 27%. Trends in Essex County were very similar to statewide and national trends, as well as to comparable counties.
The largest sectors in Essex County were very similar to the state and nation: 16% of total jobs were in Health Care and Social Assistance, 15% in Trade, Transportation and Utilities 14% in Professional and Business Services and 10% in each of the following: Government, Manufacturing, and Leisure and Hospitality. One interesting departure – nationwide, Manufacturing jobs made up less than 3% of the total.
The highest paid sector in Essex County was Manufacturing, with an average annual salary of $84,000 in 2014. This was followed by Financial Activities ($76,000) and Professional and Business Services ($74,000). The lowest paid sector was Leisure and Hospitality ($20,000). This was a bit different from the state and nation, where the Financial Activities ($124,000 and $85,000, respectively) and Information sectors ($99,000 and $88,000, respectively) that were the two highest earning sectors.
Overall, yearly salaries in Essex County averaged $54,000 in 2014 and were unchanged from 2000 after adjusting for inflation – meaning salaries just kept pace with inflation. This is in contrast to the state, where the average salary has increased by 5% and the nation, with a 6% increase over the same time period. (All financial data is presented in real terms.)
From 2000 to 2014, salaries grew fastest in Essex County in the Financial Activities (+27%), Government (+16%) and Manufacturing (+14%) sectors, while the Information sector had the largest decrease (-27%). Although Essex County, the state and nation had similar changes in many sectors, the state and nation both had increases of 12% in average salaries in Information.
In Essex County, as in the state and nation, women’s earnings tended to lag men’s earnings in the same occupations. For all occupations, Essex County women earned 77% of men’s earnings.
Like the state and nation, Essex County’s economy is dominated by small employers. In 2014, over half (54%) of businesses in Essex County employed 1-4 people, 20% employed 5-9 people, 13% employed 10-19 people and the remaining 14% employed 20 people or more. Only 3% of employers, less than 500 businesses, had 100 or more employees. This has not changed since 2000.
Self-employment in Essex County brings in more revenue per resident than for the nation as a whole. Essex County had just over $6,000 in self-employment revenue per resident in 2014, on par with the state and $700 higher per resident that the nation. However, Essex County’s level was down 7% since 2000.
Unemployment in the county fell to 5.2% in 2015, a continuation of the steady decline in unemployment rates since the peak of 8.7% in 2009 and on par with the state, nation and comparable counties. However, Essex County’s unemployment is still nearly twice the low of 2.7% in 2000.
In 2010-14, unemployment was higher among Hispanic and African American residents at 14% than among Asian and white residents (both 8%) – similar to the disparities seen at the state and national levels.
In 2006-10, around 80,000 workers (26%) entered Essex County for work each year, and 130,000 residents (36%) left for work each year.