Reports & Data

Strength in Numbers 2023 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. Despite economic uncertainty, the 495/MetroWest region continues to be a primary economic engine for Massachusetts, and a uniquely advantageous places to do business with: 

  • 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 challenges. Click here to check out our 2023 495/MetroWest Strength in Numbers report.

Past Strength in Numbers Reports:

2023 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 2023 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.  

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 • Wrentham

Each Community Profile is a two-page PDF document. 

2023 Employer Survey

The 495/MetroWest Partnership has released an analysis of results from its 2023 495/MetroWest Employer Survey, which was undertaken in conjunction with Framingham State University’s MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC). The survey, now in its 10th year, is an annual project gauging the outlook and intentions of business leaders across the region. 

This survey of employers in the 495/MetroWest region was conducted online during April and May 2023. There were 154 total respondents. Click here to access the survey analysis.

Highlights from the survey results include:

  • 32% of respondents feel business conditions in 495/MetroWest are better than they were a year ago, with 47% feeling they are about the same. Only 21% feel conditions are worse.
  • More respondents (37%) feel the economy in the 495/MetroWest region will improve over the coming year than feel it will decline (32%). 31% expect conditions to remain the same.
  • A majority of respondents (51%) expect their organization’s revenues to improve this year over the previous year. Only 21% expect a decline, with 28% expecting about the same revenue performance.
  • 495/MetroWest employers were split on whether supply chain disruptions have impacted their business this year, with 51% saying No and 49% responding Yes.
  • When asked what their overall biggest concerns were over the course of the coming year, respondents cited, workforce/ hiring or labor availability (combined) topped the list with 46% of employers.
  • 65% of respondents say they have encountered difficulties in hiring qualified staff this year.
  • 41% of employers taking the survey expect to grow their workforce in the 495/MetroWest region over the course of the coming year. Only 9% are contemplating a staffing reduction in the region. 21% do not intend any changes in staffing levels, with 30% unsure.

Click here to access the survey analysis.

Each year, the 495/MetroWest Partnership publishes our Strength in Numbers report, highlighting the economic advantages of the 495/MetroWest region. Through turbulent times, the strengths and advantages of the 495/MetroWest region continue to position it as an economic powerhouse: employers remain bullish on the region in spite of national economic concerns, key sectors continue to grow, unemployment is consistently lower than state and national figures, commercial real estate remains available at a steep discount from Boston, and the region continues to boast one of the world’s most educated workforces. Click here to download our 2022 Strength in Numbers report.

2022 Community Profiles

Click each respective community link below to access the 2022 Community Profile for that city or town:






The 495/MetroWest Partnership has released results from its 2022 495/MetroWest Employer Survey. The survey is undertaken in conjunction with Framingham State University’s MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC), and is an annual project gauging the outlook and intentions of business leaders across the region.

210 employers took part in the 2022 survey, representing an increase over the 184 participants who responded to the organization’s 2021 survey. Click here to access a graphical representation of the results.

Highlights from the survey results include:

  • 63% of businesses in the 495/MetroWest region expect their revenues to improve this year; 24% are uncertain, with 13% expecting decline.
  • In spite of crumbling business confidence statewide, almost half (47%) of 495/MetroWest employers still expect the region’s economic condition to improve.
  • 52% of 2022 survey respondents expect to hire additional staff in the 495/MetroWest region over the coming year, with 44% unsure. Only 4% anticipated reducing area staff.
  • 51% of businesses that are looking to hire are planning to add permanent full-time staff. An additional 31% of businesses are looking to hire a mix of permanent part and full-time staff.
  • 52% of respondents have sourced elements of their supply chain regionally or locally.
  • Attributes of the region that continue to be seen as positives by employers include a talented workforce, high quality of life, and the growth of the region's life sciences sector.
  • Workforce and hiring concerns topped employer worries, including the skills gap of applicants and a declining population of 18-24 year olds in the local workforce. Increasing costs and inflationary pressures were also reflected in employer comments.

Innovation Economy: The 495/MetroWest Partnership also undertook an analysis of “Innovation Economy” respondents, including those employers representing the Health Care and Social Assistance; Information; Life Sciences; and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services sectors.

  • These companies are more likely to cite public transportation gaps and housing costs as the single most important challenge in accessing or retaining talent in the 495/MetroWest region.
  • These companies were more likely to indicate that they planned to grow their workforce by 10% or more.
  • Health Care and Social Assistance entities were among the most likely to cite the need to replace an aging workforce as the most common workforce concern.

The survey was conducted during April and May of 2022. Area chambers of commerce and business associations assisted promoting the survey to their members and partners, including the Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce, the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce, the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the MetroWest Life Sciences Network.

Detailed 2020 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.

2021 495/MetroWest Employer Survey

The 495/MetroWest Partnership and Framingham State University's MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC) have released the results of the 2021 annual 495/MetroWest Employer Survey. This survey represents a collaborative effort between the Partnership and MERC. Now in its 8th year, the survey has proven an important tool in gauging business confidence in the 495/MetroWest region and in forecasting future growth by regional employers, both in terms of hiring and site expansion.

Traditionally conducted in the Fall, the 2021 survey was conducted during the Spring, thus capturing employer intentions in a post-COVID world, as well as examining how employers weathered the pandemic. This year, 184 employers took part in the survey, representing an increase in participation over the prior two annual surveys.

Highlights from the survey:

  • Businesses in the region are optimistic; 83% believe the economy in the 495/MetroWest region will perform either significantly or slightly better over the course of the coming year. 10% expect it to remain the same, with only 7% concerned for the region’s outlook.
  • 70% of responding businesses expect their revenues to improve this year; 16% are uncertain, with 14% pessimistic.
  • 47% of businesses are either likely or definitely planning to grow their workforce in the 495/MetroWest region this year, with 46% unsure. Only 7% anticipated reducing area staffing.
  • Workforce needs most concerning to respondents were the skills gap of applicants, the need to replace an aging workforce, transportation, and housing.
  • Of employers who moved staff to remote work during the pandemic, 85% intend to return all or some to working on-site. Only 5% intend to keep all staff working remotely; the remaining 10% were undecided.
  • 57% of respondent businesses received some type of government financial assistance during the pandemic; the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was the most commonly-cited source.
  • 47% of 2021 survey respondents expect to hire additional staff in the 495/MetroWest region over the coming year; this compares favorably to prior years that saw strong GDP growth in Massachusetts, and tied or surpassed the rate planning to do additional hiring in 5 of the prior 7 annual surveys.

To review detailed survey results:

Special thanks to the team at MERC for their collaboration on this year's survey.

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.