Erie Vital Signs

Reasons to be Thankful for Living in Erie

Transportation: Erie residents enjoy easy access to two major interstate highways and very low commute times to work.

Health care facilities and costs: With several major medical facilities and a college of medicine, Erie’s health care costs are 8% lower than the average for other U.S. urban areas.

Affordability overall: With a lower overall cost of living, a given level of income commands almost 5% more purchasing power in Erie, on average, than in other U.S. urban areas.

Natural beauty of Presque Isle State Park: This 3,200-acre National Natural Landmark offers year-round recreational activities and magnificent views of the sunset, and is a favorite spot for migrating birds.

Knowledge creation: In addition to four universities, Erie will soon be the home of a brand new $16.5 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center at Penn State Erie’s Knowledge Park.

Social capital: Measures of social capital, networks of relationships that enable a society to function effectively, are higher or comparable in Erie County relative to peer counties and the U.S. as a whole.

Gobble-gobble: It is cheaper, on average, to buy that turkey along with all the traditional trimmings in Erie compared to many other urban areas, including Akron, OH, Albany, NY, Cleveland, OH and Philadelphia, PA.

Innovation on the rise: While there is still a long way to go, Erie is making important strides toward fostering greater innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, which will enhance local economic growth and development.

Voter participation: The number of registered voters for both general and primary elections in Erie County has risen in each of the last three years; historically, the voter participation rate in Erie has been higher than that in the U.S. as a whole.

Immigration: Erie has been experiencing an increase in its immigrant share of the population, which can potentially offset the long-run decline in the local population and strengthen the local labor force and economy.

Natural gas prices: Despite the recent mild November temperatures, we are in the midst of the fall and winter heating season. But the price of natural gas remains relatively low by historical standards, which will help local families save on energy costs.

Generosity: Despite its economic challenges, Erie remains a generous community. In 2013, United Way of Erie County raised more than $6.7 million and in 2014, the Erie Community Foundation received $8.9 million in gifts, with annual donor support surpassing $7 million for 12 straight years.

For more information on these and other topics, visit the Erie Vital Signs website where you will find the data on hundreds of others of the most important Erie indicators in seven key fields.

Erie Vital Signs (EVS) is a leadership initiative of the Erie Community Foundation. In partnership with the Economic Research Institute of Erie in the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend, EVS tracks indicators that measure our county’s well-being in seven topical areas: Cultural Vitality, Community and Civic Engagement, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, and Regional Cooperation. Each topical area is overseen by a committee of informed experts who select the indicators to monitor, and review the interpretation of those indicators. The goal of EVS is to inform and inspire. We believe an increased focus on data and evidence-based decision-making will help create positive community change.

This EVS Special Report was written by Dr. Kenneth Louie, Director, E conomic R esearch I nstitute of E rie, in the Black School of Business, Penn State Behrend.

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