Economy and Workforce

MetroWest appears to have recovered well from the 2008-09 recession. The unemployment rate in MetroWest was 3.0% in 2018 – compared to state and national rates of 3.3% and 3.9%, respectively. This was a continuation of the steady decline seen in unemployment rates since the peak rate of 7.5% in 2009 and 2010. This rate is still 0.7 percentage point higher than it was in 2000, however.

Notably, MetroWest is doing well as a regional center of high-tech jobs. High-tech jobs are not only seen as the future of employment, but tend to command higher salaries and benefits. In 2018, 19% of jobs in the region were considered high-tech, clearly higher than both the state (14%) and national (10%) rates. Middlesex is home to the majority of these jobs.

The share of jobs by sector is a key indicator of the structure of the economy in a region. The largest sectors in MetroWest in 2018 were Professional and Business Services, with 20% of jobs, followed by Trade, Transportation and Utilities (16%), Health Care and Social Assistance (12%), Financial Activities (10%), and Leisure and Hospitality and Government, both at about 8.5%.  Compared to the state as a whole and the nation, MetroWest has a higher proportion of jobs in Professional and Business Services and a lower proportion in Leisure and Hospitality and in Government. In other sectors, MetroWest is similar to Massachusetts as a whole.

Among large sectors, MetroWest has seen the greatest growth in the Financial Activities (49%), Healthcare and Social Assistance (46%) and Leisure and Hospitality (45%) sectors.

The biggest decline among major sectors was in Manufacturing, where jobs fell 34%. Some smaller sectors had large gains or declines: Agriculture, with 0.2% of total jobs, grew 27% since 2001, and Education, with 6% of all jobs, grew 32%. Trends in MetroWest were very similar to statewide and national trends.

Yearly salaries in MetroWest averaged $75,000 in 2018. The highest-paid sectors in the region were Information ($135,000), Professional and Business Services ($115,000), Manufacturing ($99,000), and Financial Activities ($100,000). The lowest-paid sector was Leisure and Hospitality ($26,000). This was similar to the state and nation, where the Financial Activities and Information sectors were the two highest earning sectors.

In MetroWest, as in the state and nation, women’s earnings tended to lag men’s earnings. In 2014-18, women in the MetroWest region earned 65 cents for every dollar earned by men (a female to male earnings ratio of 0.65). This ratio was up 12% from 58 cents in 2000.

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