Reports & Data

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 Community Profiles

Accompanying our 2021 Strength in Numbers report are economic and demographic profiles of each of our 36 cities and towns. Click each respective community link below to access the 2021 Community Profile for that city or town:

ActonAshlandBellinghamBerlinBoltonBoxboroughFoxborough

FraminghamFranklinGraftonHarvardHollistonHopedaleHopkinton

HudsonLittletonMarlboroughMaynardMedfieldMedwayMilford

MillisNatickNorfolkNorthboroughPlainvilleSherbornShrewsbury

SouthboroughStowSudburyUptonWaylandWestboroughWestfordWrentham

Data points presented in each community profile include population changes, educational attainment, commuting patterns, housing information, occupations and industries, and more.  

Each year, the 495/MetroWest Partnership publishes our Strength in Numbers report, highlighting the value of our 36 communities to the overall economic strength of the Commonwealth. While 2020 brought with it instability, hardship, and unprecedented challenges for all of our stakeholders, 2021 has arrived with optimism and resurgence in the 495/MetroWest region. The region was well-positioned to weather the pandemic due to a strong presence of invulnerable economic sectors and a highly educated workforce, consistently enjoying comparatively lower unemployment than the state and nation. Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, those advantages continue to serve our region well, coupled with competitively priced commercial real estate. Click here to download our 2021 Strength in Numbers report.

Past Strength in Numbers Reports:
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.