Living






Quality of life in a community is made up of many components – including physical assets such as the environment and technology, and a community’s residents and their level of involvement.

Berks County residents’ engagement in their community and political process is increasing. Of voting-age residents, 81% of voting-age Berks residents were registered to vote and 57% voted in the 2016 presidential election. While both voter registration and participation have increased in Berks County since 2000, they are both below state levels. When comparing to neighboring counties, Chester and Montgomery both had higher voter registration and voter participation than Berks County, while in contrast Schuylkill County had lower voter registration and participation.

Another measure of residents’ engagement in their community is the level of charitable giving, which shows residents’ willingness to invest in programs and organizations that serve their community. The average charitable donation in Berks County increased by 29% in real terms since 2011, which is a larger increase than that experienced by neighboring counties, the state or the nation. The level of giving (an average of $4,138) is still lower than the average for the state of Pennsylvania or for the country as a whole. When considered in terms of residents’ income, Berks County residents contributed 1.7% of their income, a similar rate to the state and the country. However, while that rate has been fairly constant for Pennsylvania and the U.S., this share represents a slight increase from the 1.4% of income donated in 2011.

Tourism can bring important economic activity to an area, providing jobs as well as the potential for regional pride. Over $797 million was spent on travel and tourism in Berks County in 2014, good for $1,925 per county resident. Tourism spending increased by only 2% from 2005 to 2014, while the state as whole experienced a 10% increase.

Access to the Internet is crucial for households to communicate and search for jobs. In 2016, 85% of households in Berks County had access to the Internet, similar to Pennsylvania and the U.S. This was an increase of 8 percentage points since 2013. When compared to neighboring counties, Berks had a similar share of households with internet access, though Chester (90%) and Montgomery (91%) counties both had higher rates of access.

Beyond jobs and community engagement, environmental factors can affect community life. While dams can provide benefits such as economic activity, renewable power, and flood control, many dams are rapidly aging and come with significant costs. Dams can contribute to water pollution of their related watershed, as well as impacting local environments and habitats. As dams age, their infrastructure can weaken and increase the chance of failure, potentially endangering human life and property. Such dams require monitoring and infrastructure investment to ensure the safety of those in the surrounding areas. Berks County contained 3.6 dams per 100 square miles, for a total of 31 dams in the county, accounting for 2% of the state's dams.





INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Occupied Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing