Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2019
Supply, Demand and the Challenge of Local Control
The UMass Donahue Institute contributed to the Great Boston Housing Report Card 2019. The report was a partnership between the Boston Foundation, the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Center for Housing Data and the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. This was the 16th in an annual series.
Greater Boston has long relied on its human capital as the primary source of its economic growth. Drawing on a highly educated workforce, the region has developed a strong economic base in education, healthcare, professional services, and finance—key industries that have experienced strong growth as the national economy has shifted away from manufacturing and toward the knowledge and service sectors. Greater Boston’s strength in these sectors helped bolster the region relative to the rest of the nation during the Great Recession and also attracted employers to locate or expand here during the recovery. By the end of 2018, the unemployment rate stood at 2.4 percent, a historic low, with more than 50,000 jobs added to the economy over the previous 12 months. Yet to some extent Greater Boston has become—not for the first time—the victim of its own success. Having failed to produce an adequate supply of housing for decades, the region is not prepared to accommodate the population growth that is being propelled by the current economic boom. Strong job growth has attracted more people into the region and pulled more residents into the job market— both of which serve to increase the number of new households being formed and correspondingly, the demand for additional housing. For a region with a track record of sluggish housing production, this has predictably resulted in demand outstripping supply, sending both rents and home prices soaring.
The report includes contributions from Economic & Public Policy Research staff, including Mark Melnik, Carrie Bernstein, Susan Strate, Thomas Peak and Abby Raisz.