• About the Project
  • Indicators: what we track
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.


    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.


    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  


    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  


    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.


    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.


    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.


    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 


    What is Transportation?

    Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.


    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Reports: in-depth analysis
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Snapshots & Briefs: quick reviews
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: find what you need
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.

    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world.

    Nominate a breakthrough!

  • Shape of the City: Boston's future
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    A Lifetime of Opportunity
    Organized into six buckets, the Opportunity Index tracks key indicators of mobility across a lifetime.  Developed to initiate and inform conversations on inequality, this tool will evolve along with conversations on economic and social disparities.


Goals & Indicators:
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Educational Attainment of Population, Boston and MA
  • Percent of Adults with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher
  • Percent of Adults 25 Years and Older with a BA or Higher
  • Percent of 25 to 34 Year-Olds with a BA or Higher
  • Adult Educational Attainment of Boston and MA

Metro Boston ranks 4th among the nation’s largest metro’s in the percent of adults 25 years or older with a BA or higher at 43%, behind DC, San Jose and San Francisco.  However, Boston ranks 1st in the percent of highly educated young workers with 54% of 25-34 year olds holding a BA or Higher.  The metro is anchored by Boston’s high educational attainment where 62% of 25 to 34 year old hold a BA or higher, topping all other large US cities.

Innovative Capacity Measured by Patents per Capita
  • Patents per Capita

Metro Boston ranked fourth globally in patent filings, accounting for 7.2% of all patents filed in the US and 2.5% of all patents filed worldwide, according to 2008 statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD).  Metro Boston ranked second globally—behind only San Francisco—in biotech patents.  According to the Mass Tech Collaborative, the number of patents awarded in Massachusetts rose by 33% between 2009 and 2010 and the state ranked first among all leading technology states in patents issued at 931 per million residents, up from 622 in 2006.  The next highest state was New York with 749 patents per million.

Share of US R&D and Venture Capital Funding
  • Venture Capital Deals per Million by State
  • Venture Capital Dollars Per Capita by State
  • Share of Venture Capital Deals and Dollars

R&D: Massachusetts ranked 6th in total funding for Research & Development with nearly $2.5 million and 3rd in per capita R&D funding with $373 per capita as of FY09, the most recent year for which data are available.  More than half of the funding, $1.8 million, came from the federal government ranking 3rd in total federal funds.  Massachusetts ranked 6th in total funding from industry but only 37th in R&D funding provided by the state. 

Venture Capital: As of Q1 2012, the New England Region had the second largest VC investment value in the nation, at $678 million and nearly 12% of the nation’s total.  In 2011, Massachusetts per capita VC as $455, the highest of all leading technology states, despite falling from $491 per capita in 2006 according to the Mass Tech Collaborative.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Employment by Industry Sector
  • Total Employment, Boston
  • Employment by Industry, Boston
  • Average Weekly Wage by Industry
Total:As of 2011 Q3, Boston's average monthly employment was 565,164, the highest count since prior to the recession in 2008.  However, Boston has yet to recover more than 18,000 jobs lost in the 2001 recession.  This trend is not unique to Boston; throughout 2011 Metro Boston added a net 38,000 jobs, but total employment of about 2.4 million was 123,000 lower than last decade's employment peak in February 2001.  

By Industry: As of 2011 Q1, Boston’s dominant industries were Education & Health Services, with nearly 170,000 employees in 2011; Professional & Business Services, with more than 90,000 employees; and Financial Activities, with more than 73,000, together accounting for more than 60% of Boston’s 550,000 jobs. Within these super sectors are detailed industries describing specific goods produced and services rendered, such as Software Publishers, employing nearly 1,000 in the Information super sector. Boston’s largest detailed industries were: Medical & Surgical Hospitals, at 69,242 employees; Colleges & Universities, at 33,208; and Financial Investment Activities, at 19,569.

By Occupation: As of 2010, Boston's largest occupation categories were Office & Administrative Support positions at 90,640, Health Practitioner & Technical positions with over 53,000, Business & Financial occupations with about 49,000 and Food Prep & Serving occupations with more than 45,000 workers.

Unemployment Rate
  • Unemployment Rate, Boston and MA
  • Unemployment Rate by Municipality

The 2011 annual unemployment rate for Boston was 7.5% compared to 6.6% throughout Metro Boston, 7.4% statewide and 8.9% nationally.  As of April 2012, unemployment had fallen to 5.5% in Boston, 5.3% in the Metro and 5.9% in Massachusetts—well below the US rate of 7.9%.  Unemployment rates in Boston, Metro Boston and Massachusetts remained one to two percentage points lower than the national rate during and after the Great Recession.  At the unemployment peak in January 2010, the US rate was 10.6% compared to 9.6% in Massachusetts, 8.6% in Metro Boston and 8.4% in the City of Boston. 

See 3.3.3 for unemployment by race/ethnicity, age and neighborhood.

Small Businesses
  • Loans to Small Businesses by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Neighborhood
  • Small Business Locations in Boston
Strong Office and Hotel Markets
  • Hotel Occupancy Rates
  • Office Vacancy Rates
Office Market: As of Q2 2012 Boston’s office vacancy rate was 11.5%, up from 9% in Q2 2009 and the low point of 6% in Q3 2007 but still lower than the high of 13.8% in Q3 2003.  The tightest office market was located in Back Bay with a vacancy rate of 5.3% and an average asking price of $53.60 per square foot.  Vacancy in the Central Business District was 14.4% with an average price of $43 per square foot and in Core Downtown vacancy was 12% with an average price of $44.78 per square foot.

Hotel Market: the Boston/Cambridge area hotel market improved on all key metrics from 2010 to 2011: occupancy increased from to 77% from 76%, the average room rate increased to $199.02 from $193.22 and the revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased to $153.24 from $146.27.  Growth is projected to continue through 2012, to a 78% occupancy rate, $216.93 average room are and $169.20 RevPAR.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Gini Index of Income Inequality
  • Gini Coefficient, US and Boston
In 2010, Boston’s Gini index of income inequality .543—the highest recorded over the last fifty years—ranking as the third most unequal among the 50 largest US cities, behind Atlanta and Miami.  This surpasses the previous high of .533 in 2007 at the height of the pre-recession boom.  Because of the recession, in 2009 the Gini index fell to .519, the lowest since 2000, but quickly worsened in the recovery.  Historically, Boston’s GINI index has ranged between 0.335 in 1960 and 0.481 in 2000.  Statewide, Massachusetts’ Gini index in 2010 was 0.475 and tied with Louisiana as the third most unequal state behind New York and Connecticut.

In 2010 the share of aggregate income held by Boston’s top 20% of households increased to 56% in 2010, up from 54% in 2009 and the share held by the top 5% of households remained steady at about 26% of total income earned in Boston in 2010.  The bottom 20% of household held just 1.7% of aggregate income in 2010, down from 2.2% in 2009.

Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity
  • Median Household Income by Race Ethnicity
  • Median Household Income by Town
  • Median Household Income Boston

In 2010, Boston’s per capita income was nearly $34,000 but with stark racial ethnic disparities.  The per capita income for white, non-Latino Bostonians was over $45,000 compared to about $29,000 among Asians, $19,000 among African Americans and $15,000 among Latinos.  Overall, Boston’s per capita income increased by about 11% between 2000 and 2010, when adjusted for inflation.

Similar disparities exist across households where the median household income for white non-Latino Bostonians in 2010 was over $62,000 compared to $38,000 among Asian households, $35,000 among African American households and just over $23,000 among Latino households.

Unemployment by Race/Ethnicity and Education
  • Unemployment by Race/Ethnicity
  • Unemployment by Educational Attainment
  • Unemployment by Neighborhood
Though Boston’s city-wide unemployment rate dropped below 6% in early 2012, deep racial/ethnic disparities persist.  As of 2010 when the city-wide rate was 8.6%, the unemployment rate for white, non-Latino Bostonians 16 years and older was 6.5% compared to 12% among Asians, 21% among Latinos and 24% among African American Bostonians 16 years and older.

Deep disparities in employment persist along lines of educational attainment in Boston as elsewhere.  Averaged between 2006-2010, the unemployment rate for Bostonians between the ages of 25 and 64 without a High School diploma was over 12%.  For those with a High School Diploma the unemployment rate was 12%, and for those with some college education 11% were unemployed.  By comparison, among Bostonains with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher the unemployment rate was about 4%.  

Furthermore, labor force participation increases with educational attainment.  Roughly 35% of those without a High School diploma were not in the labor force as well as 25% of those with a High School diploma, 19% of those with some college and 12% of those with a Bachelor's Degree or higher.  Working-age adults who are not active in the labor force are not counted in official unemployment rates.  

Families Living in Poverty
  • Percent of Children in Families Below Poverty
  • Children in Married Families Living in Poverty
  • Children with Single Moms Living in Poverty
Boston’s poverty rate in 2010 was 23.3% and has remained at or near 20% since 1990.  Among children under 18, the poverty rate was 30% in 2010, also relatively unchanged since 1990.

Race/Ethnicity: poverty rates were highest among Boston’s Latino population in 2010, at 35.4%, followed by 29.5% of African Americans, 26% of Asians and 16% white, non-Latino Bostonians.

Educational Attainment: poverty is highly correlated with educational attainment—38% of Bostonians without a high school diploma were in poverty in 2010 as were 20% of high school graduates and 18% of those with some college compared to 7% of Bostonians with a BA or higher.

Family Structure: about 10% of Boston’s families are single-parent families living at or below poverty and of all families in poverty 87% are headed by a single parent.  This correlation cuts across all racial/ethnic lines: 93% of African American families in poverty are headed by as single parent as well as 97% of Latino families, 76% of white families and 58% of Asian families in poverty.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Economic Independence Index, Boston
  • MA Economic Independence Index FESS
The income required for a single parent in Boston to support one preschooler and one school-age child increased to $62,421 in 2010 from $39,156 in 1998, according to the Crittenton-Women’s Union.  The Economic Independence wage for a family of four including one adult rises to more than $80,000 to cover housing, food, clothing, education and other basic necessities.  This is more than four times the Federal Poverty Threshold and more than double 185% of Federal Poverty, the point at which most state and federal subsidies and supports expire.  An estimated 150,000 Bostonians—including 30,000 children—live between 185% of poverty and 400% of the federal poverty level—a proxy for economic self-sufficiency.
Consumer Price Index
  • Measure needed

Metro Boston’s Consumer Price Index increased by 33% from 2000 to 2011, while the region’s average weekly wage actually declined by about 1% when adjusted for inflation through the third quarter of 2011.  The growth in costs was driven by and 83% increase in fuel and utility prices, 61% increase in medical care and a 53% increase in the price of other services.  Residents of Metro Boston pay the most for medical care, other goods and services and shelter—all higher than the average consumer price index.  The price index for medical care in 2011 was more than two times greater than the overall consumer price index. 

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Educational Attainment
  • Percent of Asian Adults 25 Years and Older with a BA or Higher
  • Percent of African American Adults 25 Years and Older with a BA or Higher
  • Percent of Latino Adults 25 Years and Older with a BA or Higher
  • Percent of White Adults 25 Years and Older with a BA or Higher

Metro Boston ranks 4th among the nation’s largest metro’s in the percent of adults 25 years or older with a BA or higher at 43%, behind DC, San Jose and San Francisco.  However, Boston ranks 1st in the percent of highly educated young workers with 54% of 25-34 year olds holding a BA or Higher.  The metro is anchored by Boston’s high educational attainment where 62% of 25 to 34 year old hold a BA or higher, topping all other large US cities.

Job Training and Adult Wait Lists
  • ABE/ESOL Wait List

In Massachusetts, many jobs remain vacant despite a large pool of unemployed workers, suggesting a jobs/skills mismatch. Vacancies as of the second quarter of 2010 (the latest available) showed:

  • High demand for high-skilled workers: 37% of open jobs required at least a BA, while 25% of unemployed workers had a BA or higher, indicating the need for more high-skilled workers. Often, filling a high-skilled job has a multiplier effect: For example, filling a vacant Computer Software Engineer position increases demand for middle-skilled Computer Support Specialists and low-skilled Receptionists & Information Clerks.
  • A mismatch between unemployed middle-skilled workers’ skills and job requirements: 8% of available jobs that required less than a BA but more than a high school diploma remained unfilled despite the fact that 23% of the unemployed held these credentials. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston research finds that over the last decade, the number of middle-skilled workers in the Bay State has declined while their wage premium has risen. This suggests that even middle-skilled workers with an Associate’s degree or some college lack the actual skillsets required by employers with open jobs in certain industries.
  • Low-skill-job churn: Low-skilled occupations comprised 55% of job vacancies while 50% of the unemployed have a high school diploma or less. These vacancies are largely attributable to high turnover. Employers reported that 80% of low-skilled openings were filled within 30 days and 13% of employers constantly recruited.
Skills Mismatch
  • Skills Mismatch in Boston and MA

As of 2011, some estimates showed as many as 120,000 unfilled jobs but more than 240,000 unemployed workers in Massachusetts.  The most recent data from Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development showed that in 2010 Q2 37% of open jobs in Massachusetts required a BA or Higher, 8% required an Associates Degree or some certification and 55% of vacant jobs required no minimum education, though this may reflect the high turnover rates in low-skilled jobs.  

In Greater Boston, the highest vacancy rates were in Life, Physical & Social Science occupations at 4.1%, Food Prep & Serving Related at 3.9% and Computer & Mathematical occupations at 3.5%.  However, the largest number of vacant positions were in Food Prep & Serving Related occupations with 4,844 unfilled jobs and in Office & Administrative Support with 3,985 available positions.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Community College Tuition as a Percent of Household Income
  • Measure needed

The average cost of tuition and fees at a Massachusetts Community College has remained between 4.7% and 4.9% of median household income between 2005 and 2009.  At Boston’s two Community Colleges, the cost burden was 4.3% of median income at Bunker Hill Community College and 4.6% of median income at Roxbury Community College.  However, Boston’s median family income is very high—at $81,569 in FY2009.  By contrast, the lowest quintile of households had an income of $13,557.  For these families, the average tuition at Bunker Hill and Roxbury Community Colleges would be more than 25% of household income.

Associates Degrees Awarded
  • Associate Degrees Awarded

A total of 11,136 Associate’s Degrees and Certificates were awarded in FY2009, up from 10,299 in FY2005, According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.  The number of certificates awarded increased to 2,587 from 2,309 and the number of Associate’s Degrees conferred increased to 8,549 from 7,990.

At Bunker Hill the total awards increased to 817 in FY09 from 679 in FY05, with the number of certificates declining to 160 from 174 and the number of associate’s increasing to 657 from 505.

At Roxbury Community College, the number of awards declined to 212 in FY09 from 229 in FY05, with the number of certificates declining to 18 from 39 and the number of associates degrees awarded increasing to 194 from 190.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, among those entering community college in 2004, after four years 33.6% had graduated, 16% transferred, 20.3% had earned at least 30 credits and 2% were still enrolled.  At Bunker Hill, 25% had graduated, 19% transferred, 20% had earned 30 credits and 2.4% were still enrolled.  At Roxbury Community College, 22% graduated, 22% transferred, 25% had earned 30 credits and 2% were still enrolled.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Total revenue and expenditures, Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Total Budget
  • Funding for Economic Development, MA
  • Local Aid to Cities & Towns, MA
  • Funding for the Department of Transitional Assistance, MA

In FY12 the Commonwealth’s budget was more than $34 billion, a 4% decline since FY09 when adjusted for inflation.  Rising unemployment, declining wages and reduced purchasing power associated with the Great Recession have left the Commonwealth—along with every other state—with a budget deficit for the fourth year running of $1.9 billion for FY12 down from $5 billion in 2010.  However, the loss of Federal Stimulus Funding in FY11 meant that a larger share of the budget gap had to be filled with program cuts leaving crucial services to low-income residents underfunded, includining:

  • Head Start and Universal Pre-K will funding were reduced by 27% and 40% respectively between FY09 and FY12;
  • Child Care subsidies for income-eligible and TAFDC recipients were reduced by $629,000 and $4.9 million respectively from FY11. This follows a combined reduction of $55 million (-16%) between FY09 and FY11;
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Programs received just $3.4 million in the FY12 budget—a 43% reduction from FY11 funding. This follows a 57% reduction since FY09 when these programs received $14.7 million;
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children was cut by $8.1 million from FY11 to FY12, including a reduction of the child clothing allowance from $150 to $40 per child. This cut will affect an estimated 70,000 across Massachusetts.
  • SNAP (Food Stamps) in FY12 allocates $900,000 in state support, down from $1.2 million in FY09. Because of Federal stimulus provisions, the state did not fund SNAP in FY11, but the stimulus provisions ended in FY11.

In FY11, Massachusetts’ budget shortfall was 5.7% of its total projected expenditures—which ranked it 5th lowest among all of the states. By comparison, states with the highest deficit-to-expenditure ratio had double-digit shortfalls: Nevada, 45% of total expenditures; New Jersey, 37%; Texas at 30.5%; and California at 29.3%.To close the revenue gap, the Massachusetts Legislature drew down part of the state’s Rainy Day Fund foresightedly built up during the good years. However, in FY10, the Legislature voted for a sales tax increase, which was projected to raise $1 billion from FY10 through FY12.

Total revenue and expenditures City of Boston
  • City of Boston Revenues & Expenditures

As of FY12, the City of Boston’s total budget was balanced with $2.394 billion in revenues and expenses after posting a budget surplus of $5.91 million in FY11 and $9.09 million in FY10.  The proposed budget for FY13 is balanced at $2.454 billion, a 2.5% increase over FY12.  Overall, expenditures have been rising faster than revenues, having increased by 7% and 6.6% respectively between FY10 to FY13.

Revenue: Growth in revenue has been driven by property tax levy which increased by 14% from $1.475 billion in FY10 to a projected $1.675 billion in FY13, a 40% increase in excise taxes from $103 million in FY10 to a projected $145 million in FY13, and a 27% increase in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) from $34.9 million in FY10 to $43.5 million in FY13.  Over the same time, local aid from the state declined by 6% from $413 million in FY10 to $388 million in FY13.

Expenses: Health care costs comprise 12% of total FY13 expenditures and have contributed the most to the growth of costs over the last decade.  From FY01 through FY15, health insurance costs are projected to rise by 135% compared to a 39% increase in all other city costs over the same time.  Other high-growth expenditures include: other post-employment benefits by the City of Boston have doubled from $20 million to $40 million between FY10 and FY13; total pension payment increased by 25% from $108 million to $135 million from FY10 to FY13; and total debt service payments increased by 10% from $125.5 million to 137.5 million.

The City of Boston is comprised of 77 different departments organized into 13 mayoral cabinets:

  • Office of the Mayor
  • Administration & Finance
  • Personnel & Labor Relations
  • Advocacy & Strategic Investment
  • Public Property
  • Economic Development
  • Information
  • Education
  • Environmental & Energy Services
  • Housing & Neighborhood Development
  • Human services
  • Public Health
  • Streets, Transportation & Sanitation

The city of Boston also includes non-Mayoral agencies such as the Boston Housing Authority and the Water & Sewer Commission and Intergovernmental relations with the state and county.

Tax Burden by Income Quintile

Massachusetts total state and local tax structure—including income, property, gas, excise, sales and other taxes—is regressive, with the poorest 20% paying nearly twice the rate of the wealthiest 5% in Massachusetts. In 2010, the poorest 20% of Massachusetts residents paid nearly 10% of their income in all state and local taxes combined, including the state’s income tax, while the wealthiest 1%—with incomes greater than $580,000— paid less than 6%