Reports & Data

Strength in Numbers 2024 Edition

Each year, the 495/MetroWest Partnership publishes our annual Strength in Numbers update, highlighting the advantages of locating and doing business in our region. Through turbulent times, the 495/MetroWest region continues to be an economic powerhouse, offering:

  • A highly skilled workforce
  • More affordable commercial & industrial real estate
  • Growth in key industries
  • More employers, strong wages, and low unemployment

That's why our region's business leaders remain bullish in the face of broader economic uncertainty. Click here to check out our 2024 495/MetroWest Strength in Numbers report.

Past Strength in Numbers Reports:

2024 Community Profiles

Each year, the 495/MetroWest Partnership publishes economic and demographic profiles of each of our 36 cities and towns. Click each respective community link below to access the 2024 Community Profile for that city or town. Data points presented in each community profile include population changes, educational attainment, commuting patterns, housing information, occupations and industries, and more.  

Each Community Profile is a two-page PDF document. 

2024 Employer Survey

The 495/MetroWest Partnership has released an analysis of results from its 2024 495/MetroWest Employer Survey, which was undertaken in conjunction with Framingham State University’s MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC). The survey, now in its 11th year, is an annual project gauging the outlook and intentions of business leaders across the region.

The survey focuses on employers with physical plants located in the 495/MetroWest region, defined as the 36 cities and towns served by the 495/MetroWest Partnership. Owners, leaders, or individuals with regional hiring authority for private, public, or nongovernmental organizations that have a presence in the 495/MetroWest region were invited to take part. The survey was conducted online during April and May 2024.

176 total respondents took part, a 14% increase in participation over the 2023 survey.

Click here to access the survey analysis.

Highlights from the survey results include:

  • 27% of respondents feel business conditions in 495/MetroWest are better than they were a year ago, with 60% feeling they are about the same. Only 13% feel conditions are worse.
  • More than twice as many respondents (44%) feel the economy in the 495/MetroWest region will improve over the coming year than those who expect it will decline (20%). 36% expect conditions to remain the same. The percentage of respondents who expect regional economic conditions to improve increased to 44% from 37% in our 2023 survey; the percentage expecting a decline dropped from 32% to 20%.
  • A strong majority of respondents (61%) expect their organization’s revenues to improve this year over the previous year, up from 51% last year. Only 15% expect a decline, down from 21% last year. 24% expect about the same revenue performance.
  • 46% of employers taking the survey expect to grow their workforce in the 495/MetroWest region over the course of the coming year, up from 41% last year. Only 7% are contemplating a staffing reduction, with 1% planning a reduction. 13% do not intend any changes in staffing levels, with 33% unsure.
  • Only 10% of respondents stated that inflationary pressures had not impacted profitability this year. However, the percentage saying the negative impact was significant dropped from 33% last year to 18% in 2024.
  • When asked what their overall biggest concerns were over the course of the coming year, more than half selected both Workforce/ Hiring and Inflation.
  • 52% of respondents say they have encountered difficulties in hiring qualified staff this year. This marks a pronounced drop from 2023, when 65% of respondents reported having difficulties.
  • When asked the single most important challenge in the 495/MetroWest region facing their organization today, 48% cited one of three labor/ workforce issues: Labor costs were the choice of 19%, Labor availability 15%, and Labor quality/ skillsets 14%. However, Housing Costs moved into first place, compared with 3rd place in 2023.

Click here to access the survey analysis.

To review past 495/MetroWest Employer Survey Data, click the respective links below:

Detailed Decennial U.S. Census Figures for the 495/MetroWest Region

Detailed local data from the 2020 census, published in August 2021 by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that the 495/MetroWest region, consisting of 36 cities and towns served by the 495/MetroWest Partnership, grew at a faster rate than Massachusetts as a whole between 2010 and 2020. The region has also become substantially more diverse over the previous decade.

From the release of local census data it can be seen that:

  • 646,148 people now call 495/MetroWest home, up from 592,461 in 2010.
  • The population of the 495/MetroWest region grew by 9.1%, surpassing the state’s 7.4% rate of growth.
  • The population of the 495/MetroWest region now comprises 9.2% of the state’s total population, up from its 9.05% share in 2010.
  • 15 Partnership communities saw population growth of greater than 10%: Ashland, Berlin, Bolton, Boxborough, Foxborough, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Littleton, Natick, Northborough, Plainville, Westborough, Westford, and Wrentham.
  • Hopkinton experienced the largest rate of growth in the region, at 25.7% over its 2010 population. No communities in the region lost population.
  • The region added 21,788 new housing units over the course of the decade, an increase of 9.5%, surpassing the state's 6.8% rate. However, the region's vacancy rate of 4.1% was far below the state rate of 9.1%.
  • The 495/MetroWest region has become more diverse, with the percentage of residents who identify as White dropping from 83.6% in 2010 to 73% in 2020. Census data shows an increase in 495/MetroWest residents identifying as Asian (from 7.93% in 2010 to 10% in 2020), Latino (4.63% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2020), Black (1.87% in 2010 to 2.43% in 2020), and Multi-Racial/ Two or More Races (1.8% in 2010 to 5.39% in 2020).

The 36 municipalities served by the 495/MetroWest Partnership are Acton, Ashland, Bellingham, Berlin, Bolton, Boxborough, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Harvard, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medway, Milford, Millis, Natick, Norfolk, Northborough, Plainville, Sherborn, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Upton, Wayland, Westborough, Westford, and Wrentham.

Click here to explore detailed local census information across Massachusetts, presented by the UMass Donahue Institute.

Click here to download data specific to the 495/MetroWest region, prepared by the 495/MetroWest Partnership (Excel file).

The census is a count of everyone living in the United States; it is a mandatory count required to be conducted every ten years by the United States Constitution. The entire population of the United States must be counted as part of the census-taking process, including citizens and non-citizens.

The 495/MetroWest Partnership and the Public Policy Center (PPC) at UMass Dartmouth are pleased to present the Demographic and Economic Profile of the 495/MetroWest Region 2020, a report that provides key insights into the trends and characteristics of our region. The profile also includes two-page briefs on each of the cities and towns included within the Partnership’s service area, which include statistics regarding population, income, jobs, demographics, housing occupancy and stock, as well as commuting patterns and modes.

The PPC has provided research and analytical support to the 495/MetroWest Partnership to study the development challenges experienced by the region, in conjunction with the Suburban Edge Community Commission (SECC). The SECC was established by the Legislature in 2015 to study challenges to development in communities along I-495, with the 495/MetroWest Partnership coordinating the effort. Challenges addressed by the SECC included transportation, water, energy infrastructure, transit services, residential development, reuse of former industrial facilities and historic mills, brownfields reclamation, downtown revitalization, and other constraints. The SECC developed recommendations in each policy area in a report published in 2018, which included an economic and demographic profile of the region. This report is an update of that profile, with data and analysis taken from the most recently available sources. Click here to download the report.

Data Brief: Frontline Workers in the 495/MetroWest Region

The 495/MetroWest Partnership and our research partners, the Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth (PPC), developed a data brief aimed at generating a better understanding of who has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic in the 495/MetroWest region. During the COVID-19 crisis, the nation has become highly dependent on “frontline workers,” defined for the purposes of the data brief as people whose essential jobs must continue functioning and cannot be done from home. Specifically, the brief included workers in six critical industries:

  1. Grocery, Convenience, and Drug Stores, which provide food and medicine to the general population
  2. Public Transit, which drive buses and trains to allow other frontline workers to commute to their jobs
  3. Trucking, Warehouse, and Postal Service, which delivers essential goods and supplies to the necessary locations such as hospitals and stores
  4. Building Cleaning Services, which maintains and sanitizes potentially contaminated spaces
  5. Select Health Care, including doctors, nurses, and health professionals directly caring for patients
  6. Social Services, which provide much needed supportive and emergency services to families and individuals in crisis or at-risk of entering a crisis

Frontline workers represent approximately 17 percent of the region’s total workforce. Comparatively, frontline workers account for 20 percent of the workforce in Massachusetts as a whole. The largest frontline industry in the 495/MetroWest region is Select Health Care, representing about 59% of the region’s frontline workers. Click here to download the data brief.

495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission (SECC)

The 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission was established by the Legislature in 2015 to examine the development challenges facing suburban edge communities in the 495/MetroWest region and determine how the Commonwealth’s programs and initiatives can address their needs. This narrative, first published in 2018, provides a synopsis of the development challenges considered by the Commission, documents regional constraints to growth, and identifies key findings to address these issues. Click here to download the SECC report.  

495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan

Completed in 2012, the 495/MetroWest Development Compact was a regional-level planning process that: 1) established community-based priorities and strategies along the I-495 corridor; 2) integrated those priorities into regional and state development and preservation strategies; and 3) provided a direction for public investments that conserve the intrinsic qualities of the corridor while capitalizing on its economic strength in the state. The planning process promoted a dialogue about land use issues that transcended municipal boundaries. Meetings and conversations with municipal staff and stakeholders, in addition to large, regional forums, provided the foundation for these locally identified priority areas. Using these local priorities as a basis, this report describes the methodology and findings of a planning process used to identify Regionally Significant Priority Development Areas, Priority Preservation Areas and Transportation Investments. Click here to read the plan.