At this week's inaugural City Council candidate forum, some candidates bemoaned the loss of the middle class in Cambridge as well as the loss of Cambridge jobs for Cambridge residents. These are themes that are often heard. But are those points true? Census data, compiled by the Cambridge Community Development Department, paints a complex picture.
Cambridge is a wealthy community where household income growth outpaced that of the United States as a whole.
Over the last 30 years, median household income in Cambridge has nearly doubled while the country's has remained relatively flat. In the last decade, where the country has experienced a decrease, Cambridge's growth has continued unabated.
While Cambridge has grown increasingly wealthy, poverty, after declining in 1990, has returned to 1980 levels. Fifteen percent of Cambridge's residents live below the poverty line.
Has the middle class left Cambridge? Not noticeably.
While the data show slight changes, the way the Census collects these data changed over this time period and the changes shown are well within the variations one might see from those changes.
Cambridge's workforce - those classified as potential workers - has grown over the past forty years, and labor force participation - those with jobs or seeking jobs has increased from 60% to 70%.
But what about Cambridge jobs for Cambridge residents?
The number of Cambridge residents employed in Cambridge has increased 25% over the last 40 years:
But, the percentage of working Cambridge residents whose jobs are in Cambridge has dropped:
A note about data and sources: Most of these data are derived from Cambridge Community Development's excellent Statistical Profile of Cambridge. Those wishing to use the data presented here would find reading the caveats and explanations in that report useful. Census methods are complex, and deriving big picture numbers are not straightforward.