The 2020 Year-End Review

January 31st, 2021, 8:00 AM

Erie Vital Signs

The 2020 Year-End Review

Erie Vital Signs is wrapping up its year-end data updates, congruent with the U.S. Census data releases in December, and thought it important to report the movement in our community through an overview of the change in some of our key indicators. It should be noted that for many of these, the data-year lags behind, meaning that even the updated data may not reflect some current realities of a COVID-affected world. We will, as always, attempt to update the sources of the EVS analyses as data is verified and released (see any topic's About This Data section for more information).

At EVS we strive for the user to glean information at their desired depth, and so provide anything from single indicators to interactive dashboarding to full dataset export. EVS has been designed to accommodate the information seeker's appetite, so at the top of most topic pages you'll find a line graph, from past to present.  The chart lines soar or sink or bounce representing a pertinent trend or trends. On the homepage of EVS is a laundry list of the snapshot trends, summated by the Better and the Worse. If something is trending up or down positively it is Better, if something is trending up or down negatively, it is Worse. That list is the busy persons' barometer, and every year we all hope to see more green Betters. This month we're attentive to the time-budgeted information seeker (although we suggest our Key Indicator 1-Pager). Below you'll find the 2020 EVS update's most noticeable shifts, they're separated by the Better and Worse. If these inspire you to dig in deeper, there are pages of information at your disposal.

For your reference, unless stated otherwise, the data years for most of these trends extends to the latest 2019 data estimates released via the U.S. Census as of 12/2020. We realize that 2020 marked a volatile year extending into likely nearly every indicator, and we will do our best in 2021 to update our visualizations to reflect the data as it's analyzed from 2020. 2020 Unemployment, for instance, is an attempt at analyzing the effects of the year's events on unemployment outside of the trend page (due to varying data sources and analytic methods between the two pages), but many of our data sources cannot analyze or estimate as rapidly as COVID has swept through the facets of our lives. We do our best to fill this information gap by focusing our monthly blog posts on highly relevant and topical events and concerns when more targeted datasets are available. Finally, for all the following trends the geographic frame is county-wide.  

The Better

  • Trending Up Good
    • The average Total Salary for the latest data year (2019) across all sectors in Erie County, rose by 2.9% to $43,433 from the prior year.
      • Disparity Note:
        • The Wage Gap (between Erie County's White workers and Workers of Color) also trended positively in 2019. The gap shrunk by 0.4%, but still represents that Workers of Color are earning 92.9% of what their White counterparts do at the same occupation level.
    • The change in the number of 25- to 34-Year-Olds in Erie County increased by 0.7% in 2019, even while the Total Population
    • The percentage of 3rd Graders and 8th Graders achieving proficient and advanced PSSA scores increased for both Math and Reading for the school year 2018-2019.
      • 3rd Grade Reading: 65.3% (+2.2%)
      • 3rd Grade Math: 62.7% (+3.7)
      • 8th Grade Reading 61.7% (+1.2%)
      • 8th Grade Math 39.0% (+5.6%)
    • The percentage of all Occupied Housing Units that are owner-occupied (not rented) increased by 0.3% to 66.1% in 2019.
  • Trending Down Good
    • The percentage of the entire population of Erie County which fall below the Poverty Level for the latest data year fell by -0.5% to 16% in 2019.
    • Disparity Note:
      • While the overall trend for poverty county-wide is down, the rate actually increased for populations of color. Specifically for Latino residents, up +3.5% to 44.8%, and residents of Two or More Races, up +4.8% to 36.6%.
    • Property Crimes per 1000 residents in Erie County fell to 6.8 in 2018.
    • The unhealthy Air Quality Index (AQI) Days fell for Erie County. In the last full year Erie County's air of healthy quality rose +11.5%, with 322 days of the year being rated healthy in 2020.
    • Obesity Rates fell 7% from 36% of Erie County's population to 29% between 2017 to 2019.
    • Everyday Smokers in Erie County continue to decrease, falling another -3% to 20% of the population 2017 to 2019.
    • Mortality Rates for selected diseases including Cancer and Heart Disease per 100,000 Erie County residents fell between 2017 to 2019:
      • The number of deaths per year due to cancer, expressed as an age-adjusted rate, fell to 169 per 100,000 (down from 176.6).
      • The number of deaths per year due to heart disease, expressed as an age-adjusted rate, fell to 160.6 per 100,000 residents ( down from 174.5).

The Worse

  • Trending Up Bad
    • The percent of Consumer Spending which all Erie County residents spend per year on housing costs rose in 2019 to 30.9% of all consumer spending, up +0.4% from the prior year and remaining over the 30% HUD-defined Housing Cost Burdened designation.
    • The percentage of Single-Parent Families with children rose, as a percent of all families with children under 18 they accounted for 41.3% of all families, up +0.9% in 2019.
      • Disparity Note:
        • While the rate of single-parent households rose overall in Erie County, it was particularly felt among Single-Mothers of Color. Hispanic and Latino single-mother household rose +4% to 41% of all Hispanic or Latino families. Two-or-More Race single-mother households rose +5.5% to 52.4% of all families of Two-or-More Races. While Black single-mother households fell by -0.2% in 2019, single mother households still represent 64% of all Black households.
    • The percentage of Low Birthweight Infants rose from 8.1% to 9% in 2019.
    • The rate of Drug-related Crimes per 1000 residents rose to 2.5, up from 2.4 per 1,000 in 2018.
    • The percentage of the total Erie County population who identified as Needing to see a Doctor but who Could Not Afford To in the last 2 years rose between 2017 to 2019, up to 9%. It had previously fallen for the last 3 data cycles.
    • The Median Rent Cost across all Erie County for 2019 rose to $753 dollars per month, up +$16 or 2.2%.


  • Trending Down Bad
    • The percentage of Erie County's Female Workforce fell to 44.4% of the total workforce, down -3.9% in 2019. This reflects estimates analyzed pre-COVID impact. For reference, women account for over 50.8% of Erie's total population.
    • The percentage of the Erie County workforce for latest data year that is Foreign-Born fell -0.2% to 4.5% of the total workforce in 2019. This reflects estimates analyzed pre-COVID impact.
    • The percentage of Erie County public school High Schoolers who Achieved Graduation in latest data year fell to 90.8% for the 2018-2019 graduating class, down 1.4% from the previous data year.
    • The University Graduates of Erie County's higher education institutions for the latest data year was 6,140, a drop of nearly -7.8% in 2019.
    • The Total Population for Erie County for the latest data year fell again, by -0.5%, and is now estimated at 269,428 in 2020.
    • After rising steadily for years, the percentage of the population in Erie County that is Foreign-Born fell by -0.4% in 2019, and now represent 4.4% of the County's total residents.
    • The percentage of the total Erie County population engaging in Leisure-Time Physical Activity continues a downward trend, falling to 73% of the population, another -2% drop between 2017 to 2019.

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