Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the total population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in Massachusetts. It is part of the Greater Boston area (the Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area). The largest city in Essex County is Lynn. The county was named after the English county of Essex. It has two traditional county seats: Salem and Lawrence. Prior to the dissolution of the county government in 1999, Salem had jurisdiction over the Southern Essex District, and Lawrence had jurisdiction over the Northern Essex District, but currently these cities do not function as seats of government. However, the county and the districts remain as administrative regions recognized by various governmental agencies, which gathered vital statistics or disposed of judicial caseloads under these geographic subdivisions, and are required to keep the records based on them. The county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 743,159 people, 285,956 households, and 188,005 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,508.8 inhabitants per square mile (582.6/km²). There were 306,754 housing units at an average density of 622.8 per square mile (240.5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.9% white, 3.8% black or African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 8.2% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 23.3% were Irish, 17.1% were Italian, 12.6% were English, 6.1% were German, and 3.6% were American.
Of the 285,956 households, 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.14. The median age was 40.4 years.
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