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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|
|Drug Abuse Arrests||Maintaining|
|Voter Participation Rate||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|
|Median Household Income||Maintaining|
|Change in Average Salary||Decreasing|
|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 Rate by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Housing Affordability for Homeowners||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|
|Education Level of Adults||Not Applicable|
|Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Recycling Tons Per Capita||Maintaining|
|Solid Waste Per Capita||Maintaining|
|Vehicles by Fuel Type||Not Applicable|
|Death from Heart Disease||Decreasing|
|Death from Cancer||Decreasing|
|Death from Stroke||Decreasing|
|Death from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease||Increasing|
|People Without Healthcare Coverage||Decreasing|
|People Without a Primary Care Physician||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|
|Physically Inactive Adults||Decreasing|
|Low Birth Weight Babies||Not Applicable|
|Live Births to Teen Mothers||Decreasing|
|Non Smoking During Pregnancy||Increasing|
|Early Prenatal Care||Increasing|