Erie Vital Signs is an initiative that provides critical data and information about Erie County and its communities. Community indicators tell the story of our state, helping us to clearly see our strengths and challenges and to focus our efforts to improve our region. The 80 indicators on this site track critical aspects of our state’s economy and quality of life.
Erie Vital Signs interprets the indicator information through dashboards, trend summaries, charts, graphs, and maps. Information is provided on current efforts to advance our region, as well as links to local community resources. From this foundation of objective analysis of a common set of data, we can work together to address our region’s challenges and build on our strengths.
Each measure includes a description of the indicator, a brief analysis of trends, a chart displaying trends over time, and tables providing data for the state, Erie County, Erie City, peer counties (Broome, NY, Luzerne, PA, and Stark, OH), and the nation.
Erie’s peer counties were selected based on a process that sought to identify counties with similar characteristics. We looked at data to identify counties with a similar number of residents, with medium-sized, older industrial cities and rural/small towns, a history of heavy manufacturing, multiple school districts, small local colleges or universities, and significant economic challenges. We also collected data on educational attainment and levels of urban and rural poverty. We then used a statistical process to identify the most closely matched counties, and selected three counties - Broome, NY, Luzerne, PA, and Stark, OH - to collect data for throughout the indicators project.
Erie Vital Signs was launched by The Erie Community Foundation . The Foundation consulted various stakeholders and data experts throughout the county for their guidance during its development. CGR (Center for Governmental Research) coordinated creation of the website and provided the data and analysis.
An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social, or cultural condition over time. An indicator is often expressed as a rate or percent, such as the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, or the air quality index.
We studied a list of available indicators and, with assistance from local experts in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, determined which ones would be most significant to highlight important trends and issues in our area.
Center for Governmental Research suggests that the criteria include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
Much of the data comes from existing sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, state and federal government agencies, and universities. No “primary data collection” was performed, meaning that all data shown on the site was collected by another source, often a state or federal agency. You can find the data source for each indicator on the data table and charts provided for that indicator. Raw numbers were converted to rates and dollars were adjusted for inflation to provide a reasonable basis for comparisons.
In gathering data for Erie Vital Signs, the Center for Governmental Research balanced desires for accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. Some data are available every year and regularly and quickly updated. Other datasets take longer to update, so the data on the website contains the most recent data, but may be 2-3 years old.
The Center for Governmental Research will provide Erie Vital Signs with the most timely information available, updating indicators on an ongoing basis.
Over 1,000 communities around the world have undertaken indicator initiatives. Quality of Life in Jacksonville: Indicators for Progress, was started over 20 years ago in Jacksonville, FL. Indicator projects have been established in large regions like Southern California (population 17.1 million) and in small ones like Burlington, VT (population 39,000). Some other notable examples include Boston, MA, Spartanburg, SC, and Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.