What does this measure?
The proportion of household income that goes toward monthly rent, utilities and fuel, calculated by dividing median rent by median household income for renters. A high percentage may reflect relatively high rents, low incomes, or both.
Why is this important?
This figure indicates how affordable housing is for renters. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guideline for affordability is that rent should consume no more than 30% of household income.
How is our county doing?
Renters in Essex County spent 38% of their household income on rent in 2017-21, similar to the state level (34%), and a bit higher than renters nationwide (31%). Since 2000, the share of income going to rent increased 10 percentage points in Essex County, greater than the increases in rent burden at the state and national levels over the same timeframe.
The least affordable areas for renters included Lynnfield, where the median rent consumed 74% of median income, Hamilton (48%), and Essex (47%) and Lynn (43%). Renters faced less of a cost burden in Nahant (29%), Andover, Marblehead, Salisbury and West Newbury (all at 30%), and Danvers (33%).
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County was less affordable for renters when compared to Lake, IL (29%) and Middlesex, MA (30%) and Westchester, NY (34%) in 2017-21. Essex had the largest increase in the share of income going to rent since 2000 among the comparison counties.
Notes about the data
The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.