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BPDA Research releases 2019 report on Boston's economy

Aug 13, 2019

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Research Division released its 2019 report on Boston’s economy. The annual report details Boston’s impressive economic growth, covering trends in employment, wages, housing prices, and real estate.
Key takeaways from the report include:

● Economic Growth: Building on strong growth from the year prior, Boston’s economy grew by 2.9 percent from 2016 to 2017. Annual data for 2018 is not yet available for Boston.

● Jobs: Total payroll and non-payroll jobs rose to 812,150 in 2017, the highest level since detailed employment data became available in 1969. This continues the trend of a strong job growth in Boston since 2010. This year the BPDA Research Division created a model to forecast Boston employment; results suggest that the City will add between 107,000 and 150,000 jobs by 2026.

● Unemployment: In 2018, Boston had an average unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. As of April 2019 the City’s unemployment rate was 2.2 percent, a continuation of the downward trend. Boston’s unemployment remains below the state and national levels.

● Wages: Adjusted for inflation, Boston’s average weekly payroll compensation rose 2.5 percent in 2017, according to data compiled by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. 

● Construction Activity: There were over 3.6 million construction worker hours contributed worked in 2018 on Article 80 development projects. Construction employment is at  levels close to the Big Dig era of the early 2000s.

● Housing: 3,733 new housing units were built in Boston in 2018 as part of Mayor Walsh’s Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030, a comprehensive plan to build 69,000 new housing units by 2030, 16,000 of which would be income-restricted. This plan was developed in response to the need for adequate and affordable housing in Boston. 

● Education: Boston has so far maintained steady growth in overall enrollment. Total college and university enrollment in Boston rose by 13,340 (eight percent) between 2009 and 2017, with undergraduate enrollment increasing by 3,538 (three percent) and graduate enrollment increasing by 10,554 (twenty percent). 

●  Forecasts: Short-term national and regional forecasts suggest strong economic growth will continue for the city. However, there is some uncertainty surrounding the tight labor market and low unemployment levels. Continued job growth will depend on the ability of the region’s housing market to accommodate new population.
The Spotlight Section of the 2019 Economy Report takes a close look at Boston’s higher education industry by highlighting economic contributions of higher education to the City, evaluating factors influencing enrollment at Boston’s institutions, and discussing how colleges and universities in Boston may need to adapt to the changing education market. 

The full Boston’s Economy 2019 report can be found here

To learn more about the BPDA’s Research Division and for access to other publications, please visit:

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