Luzerne County experienced increases in educational attainment levels between 2000 and 2006 in each category examined, with its greatest increase (3.1% occurring in the percentage of population 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or higher. The remaining figures included a 0.8% increase in those holding an Associate's degree; a 2.2% increase in those holding a Bachelor's degree; and a 0.9% increase in those holding a graduate or professional degree.
In 2007, with 1,395 children enrolled, Luzerne County reported the highest percentage of children in Pre-K programs. This is an increase over its 2006 enrollment of 1,134. This increase is largely due to higher enrollment in public Pre-K programs. In 2006 there were no children enrolled in a public Pre-K programs, whereas in 2007 there were 366.
Luzerne County reported an average SAT score of 953, a fourteen-point decrease from its 2006 average and a 28-point decrease from 2005. The county's highest posted score in 2006 occurred in the Dallas School district (1,017), with its lowest in the Wilkes-Barre School District (881).
The most represented income bracket among Luzerne County households for 2000 and 2006 was the $50,000 to 74,999 range. For 2006, 19.1% of households were categorized into this range-an increase of 1.5% since 2000. Luzerne County's second highest segment of households (16.3%) in 2006 fell into the $35,000 to$49,999 income range. In total for 2006, 9.2% of Luzerne County households eared more than $100,000.
Change in Household Size
Luzerne County's average household size for 2006 was 2.33 - an increase over its 2005 average household size (2.28), but a slight decrease from its 2000 average household size (2.34). Luzerne County's 2006 average household size falls below both state (2.47) and national (2.61) averages.
Housing-Tenure and Occupancy
The housing industry is vital to sustaining a region's growth. With the 50/50 danger zone of housing tenure, it is important to monitor the number of owner-occupied and renter-occupied units. The following data provides an overview of the region's overall housing market direction from 2005 to 2006, as well as information necessary to develop housing strategies.
Luzerne County experienced a reduction in total occupied housing units from 131,333 in 2005 to 130,034 in 2006. During that time however, the county's owner occupancy rate increased from 69.9% to 72.9%. Its 2006 occupancy rate ranks highest among the four counties examined. The county saw its total housing units increase from 146,911 in 2005 to 147,321 in 2006, while its vacancy rate also increased from 10.6% in 2005 to 11.7% in 2006.
Housing Affordability Index
The housing industry impacts a region's pulse and greatly influences quality of life. Affordable housing enables residents to purchase homes, thus increasing owner-occupied housing rates. The following formula was used in measuring the housing affordability index: [(Annual Median Household Income ÷ Annual Qualifying Income) x 100]. Annual Qualifying Income was determined through a housing affordability calculator. The calculator assumed an interest rate of 6.0% based on a 30-year mortgage.
Luzerne County reported a housing affordability index of 95.1 for 2006, which ranks second best among the four counties examined. Its 2006 index represents a decrease from its 98.1 index in 2005. For 2006, Luzerne County reported a median household income of $39,687 and a median home value of $102,800.
From 2005 to 2006, Luzerne County experienced a minimal increase in violent crimes. Rape and robbery crimes decreased (by 10 and 35, respectively), while murder and aggravated assault crimes increased (by 4 and 51, respectively). Conversely, the county experienced quite a significant drop in property crimes, which shifted from 7,040 in 2005 to 6,495 in 2006. Overall, Luzerne County experienced decreases in all crimes from 2005 to 2006, with the exception of motor vehicle theft, which increased from 434 to 471.
With 1,355 total DUI arrests for 2007, Luzerne County experienced a slight decrease from the prior year, although it ranks second highest among the four counties examined. And while its 2007 figures have decreased, its total DUI arrests have grown by 291 since 2002.
Crash statistics provide useful information in measuring a region's public safety quality. While 2006 crash statistics feature a more detailed breakdown of all accidents, the five-year trend analysis identifies, if any, more problematic issues. For 2006, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reported 128,342 crashes - the lowest annual total during the five-year reporting period.
Luzerne County reported 3,089 crashes in 2006, which was a decrease from 3,192 reported in 2005 and 3,744 reported in 2002. Of its 2006 total, injury crashes (1,595) represented the majority of incidents, followed by PDO (1,446) and fatal (48).