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, 76% 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 2017, 84% of households in Berks County had access to the Internet, similar to Pennsylvania and the U.S. This was an increase of 10 percentage points since 2013. When compared to neighboring counties, Berks had a similar share of households with internet access, though Chester (89%) and Montgomery (90%) 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 Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
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 County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
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 Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing