Transportation, safety, amenities like the arts and the environment all contribute to the quality of life in Essex County. Available data show a lack of transportation options to be a major challenge, while crime has been declining.
The vast majority of residents of Essex County drive to work, with 79% driving alone to work and another 9% carpooling. A small, but increasing share of residents use public transportation or bike or walk to work. Nearly 31,100 households in Essex County, comprising 11% of the county’s total, do not own a car. This is a lower rate than the state as a whole (at 12%), but still concerning given challenges with public transportation in the county. More than 1 in 5 households in Lawrence (24%) and Lynn (21%) were without cars.
In 2015-19, 86% of households in Essex County have access to the Internet, on par with the state and greater than the national rate of 83%. However, Internet access was considerably lower within certain communities in the region. In Lawrence, only 72% of residents had Internet access in 2015-19.
The crime rate in Essex County has declined slightly since 2008. In 2019, the rate of reported crimes against people was 7.4 per 1,000 residents, lower than the statewide rate of 9.3. More notably, the rate of crimes against property was 15 per 1,000 residents in 2019, down from 30 in 2008 and a 7% decline from 2018. The rates of crimes against people and crimes against property in Essex County are a bit lower than the statewide rates, and slightly above the figures in Middlesex County.
At 0.8 arrests per 1,000 residents, the drug-related arrest rate in Essex County in 2019 was similar to the statewide rate of 0.9 during the same year and similar to the rate found in Middlesex County.
The rate of reported victims of domestic violence in Essex County in 2019 was 3.1 per 1,000 residents, similar to the prior year. While lower than the statewide figure, the rate of domestic violence in Essex County has been higher than the rate in Middlesex County.
In 2018, an average of 19 residents per 10,000 were incarcerated in Essex County, greater than the statewide rate of 14, and over 3 times greater than Middlesex County. The recidivism rate in Essex County declined, among inmates released in 2015, 34% returned to prison within 3 years, down from 42% of inmates released in 2009. The decline in Essex County matches a statewide figure over the same time period.
Voter participation was 51% in the 2018 midterm elections. The turnout rate in 2018 was higher than previous midterm elections since 2000. Voter participation in the county over the past two elections is similar to Middlesex County and a bit higher than the statewide figure.
Essex County in 2018 residents contributed 1.0% of their income to charitable organizations, lower than the state and national charitable donation rates of 1.7% each.
Over $1 billion was spent on travel and tourism in Essex County in 2018, good for $1,300 per county resident. This was an 18% increase for the county since 2006. Essex County's increase since 2006 was slightly higher than the Middlesex and similar to the State's.
In 2019, 90% of days with air quality measurements in Essex County were categorized as good air days, slightly higher than the rate in 2018 and a 22 percentage point increase from 2000. Still, Essex County lags behind Middlesex County (93%) in terms of air quality.