Economy






Erie County has not fully recovered from the national recession of 2008-09. Since 2000, household income declined, the unemployment rate rose and poverty increased. However, there are some positive trends, including job gains in key industries and relatively affordable home prices.

Median household income is a gauge of the county’s overall economic health and the financial resources of its households. In 2013-17, Erie’s median income was $48,200, down 11% from $53,900 in 2000 (after inflation). This was a steeper decline than Pennsylvania, but similar to the U.S.

Salaries also are a gauge of economic health and the degree to which employees are sharing in their community’s prosperity. Erie’s average salary in 2017 was $41,200, up 2% from 2000 (after inflation). This was a smaller increase in salaries than at the state (12%) and national (10%) levels.

Unemployment rates are a timely indicator of changes in the local employment landscape. Erie’s unemployment rate in 2017 was 5.8%, up 1.3 percentage points since 2000, but down from a post-recession peak of 9.3% in 2010. Erie’s unemployment rate was higher than the state and nation and had large disparities by race and ethnic group.

Job changes by sector paint a more mixed picture of Erie’s economic vitality. Total jobs in Erie were down less than 2% from 2001 to 2017, but there was significant variation among sectors. Health Care and Social Assistance jobs increased 37%, for example, while Manufacturing jobs were down 37%.

Poverty is a measure of Erie’s overall economic health and need for social supports. In 2013-17, 17% of Erie residents had incomes below the poverty level, up from 12% in 2000. Erie County’s poverty rate was higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. Disparities in poverty by race and ethnicity were large, with 44% of Hispanics and 37% of African American residents having incomes below the poverty level, in comparison to just 14% of whites. These disparities in income level were larger than those at the state and national level.

Children living in poverty are at higher risk for a wide variety of health and social problems, which can diminish their chances for successful adult lives. In 2013-17, about a quarter of children under 18 in Erie lived in households below the poverty line, up 9 percentage points since 2000. This was a higher percentage than the state and nation. Like with poverty overall, child poverty also had large disparities by race and ethnicity, with 47% of African American and 49% of Hispanic children growing up in poverty in comparison to 20% of white children. Additionally, white and Hispanic child poverty rates in Erie increased more from 2000 to 2013-17 than the state or nation.

Tracking people who live in poverty by education level measures the ability of people with different education levels to find work and earn a living wage. In 2013-17, 32% of Erie County residents who lacked a high school diploma lived in poverty, a higher percentage than the state or nation.

Public assistance is a measure of a region’s overall poverty and shows to what extent residents need and receive help from the government to meet basic needs. In 2017, Erie received $3,600 in public assistance income per resident, double the level in 2000 and higher than Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Homeownership is a vital financial asset for a family and an investment in the community. In 2013-17, Erie’s homeownership rate was 66%, slightly lower than the state, at 69%, but slightly higher than the nation, at 64%.  Erie had great racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership rates than the state or nation, with 70% of whites owning homes in 2013-17 and only 29% of African American and 33% of Hispanic residents doing the same. Homeownership rates among African American and Hispanic residents were lower in Erie County than at the state or national level.

Home affordability provides a rough estimate of the cost of homes in a community by dividing the median home value by the median household income. Homes in Erie were fairly affordable in 2013-17, with an affordability ratio of 2.6 – a more favorable environment than the state or nation.

Median rent shows the cost of rental properties, which can affect the amount of money that individuals and families have available to spend on other necessary expenses. Erie’s median rent in 2013-17 was $723, below the median for the state and nation.





INDICATORS TREND | ERIE COUNTY
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employees Increasing
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Median Age Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Total Population Decreasing
Foreign Born Population Increasing
Household Types Not Applicable
Average Household Size Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Public Assistance Maintaining
Change in Average Salary Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Employment by Sector Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Education Level Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Homeownership Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Median Rent Maintaining
Student Performance in Grade 3 Reading Increasing
Student Performance in Grade 3 Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Maintaining
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Education Level of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Air Quality Increasing
Water Quality Maintaining
Recycling Tons Per Capita Maintaining
Solid Waste Per Capita Maintaining
Vehicles by Fuel Type Not Applicable
Mortality Rate Decreasing
Death from Heart Disease Decreasing
Death from Cancer Decreasing
Death from Stroke Decreasing
Death from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease Increasing
Hypertension Prevalance Increasing
Diabetes Prevalence Increasing
Asthma Increasing
People Without Healthcare Coverage Decreasing
People Without a Primary Care Physician Increasing
Routine Checkups Increasing
People Who Cannot Afford Healthcare Decreasing
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Children Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Teens Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Adult Smokers Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Decreasing
Binge Drinking Maintaining
Infant Mortality Decreasing
Low Birth Weight Babies Increasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Non Smoking During Pregnancy Increasing
Early Prenatal Care Increasing