Community & Civic Engagement

There are many ways to measure quality of life in a community. These include indicators of basic public safety, such as crime and drug activity, as well as voter participation and others signs of whether citizens are active in civic life.

Erie County’s drug arrest and violent crime rates are lower than Pennsylvania and similar counties. While Erie’s property crime rate is higher than the statewide rate, it is lower than or similar to the comparison counties. Crime rates in the City of Erie, however, are higher than the county as a whole, an indication that city residents disproportionately face the negative effects of criminal activity. Meanwhile, there is a higher proportion of people registered to vote in Erie County than the state average, but the county’s underlying voting-age population is increasing at a slower rate than both Pennsylvania and the nation.

Crime affects quality of life for those who directly experience and witness it, sometimes resulting in long-lasting trauma, and can indirectly influence the stability and perceived attractiveness of a community. In 2016, there were 2 violent crimes reported per 1,000 residents in Erie County, less than the state rate of 3 and the national rate of 4. In the City of Erie, the 2016 violent crime rate was 4,  double the county as a whole. The 2016 rate was lower in Erie County than in comparison counties.

In 2016, there were 19 property crimes reported per 1,000 residents in Erie County, higher than the state rate of 17, but less than the national rate of 24. From 2005 to 2016, the county’s property crime rate rose to a peak of 27 in 2011, and then declined below its 2005 level. The City of Erie’s property crime rate was 23 in 2016, higher than the county rate; however, the city rate had declined 37% since 2011. 

Drug arrests can be a sign of illegal drug use and sales, which can cause immediate and long-term harm to individuals, neighborhoods and communities. At the same time, there are racial and socioeconomic disparities in drug-related arrests at the national level, which suggests that enforcement is sometimes uneven. In 2016, the drug abuse arrest rate in Erie County was 2 per 1,000 residents, half the statewide rate. 

It is important to note that overall, Erie County’s voting-age population has increased by only 2% since 2000. The state, in contrast, experienced steady increases in its voting-age population throughout this time, resulting in an 8% increase overall. The nation increased its voting-age population by 20% in this period. If the population in Erie County continues to grow at a slower pace than the state and nation, it could eventually mean less representation for Erie County in the Pennsylvania Legislature and the U.S. Congress. 

Voter registration among adults 18 and older indicates the citizenry's interest, commitment and belief in the value of participating in the political process. In 2017, 88% of voting-age Erie County residents were registered to vote, more than the statewide rate of 83%. From 2000 to 2017, the county’s voter registration rate fluctuated, peaking in presidential election years and declining afterward. 

In terms of actual voter participation, 57% of voting-age people in Erie County went to the polls to vote in the 2016 presidential election. This was lower than the statewide rate of 60%, but slightly higher than the national rate of 55%. Participation at the county level was lowest during the 2014 midterm elections (33%) and highest in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections (60%).

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employees Increasing
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Median Age 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
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Public Assistance Maintaining
Change in Average Salary Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
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 Rates Decreasing
Homeownership Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Median Rent 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
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Education Level of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Air Quality Increasing
Water Quality Maintaining
Recycling Tons Per Capita Maintaining
Solid Waste Per Capita Maintaining
Vehicles by Fuel Type Not Applicable
Mortality Rate Decreasing
Death from Heart Disease Decreasing
Death from Cancer Decreasing
Death from Stroke Decreasing
Death from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease Increasing
Hypertension Prevalance Increasing
Diabetes Prevalence Increasing
Asthma Increasing
People Without Healthcare Coverage Decreasing
People Without a Primary Care Physician Increasing
Routine Checkups 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
Adult Smokers Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Decreasing
Binge Drinking Maintaining
Infant Mortality Decreasing
Low Birth Weight Babies Not Applicable
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Non Smoking During Pregnancy Increasing
Early Prenatal Care Increasing