June 2009, Vol. 132, No. 6
The prominence of Boston area colleges and universities
Denis M. McSweeney and Walter J. Marshall
Regional Commissioner, Boston/New York regional office, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Walter J. Marshall
Regional Economist formerly with the Boston Regional Office, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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BThe Boston metropolitan area1 is recognized by many for its concentration of prestigious private colleges and universities. The metropolitan area is home to 85 private colleges and universities employing 70,000 people and attracting more than 360,000 students from all over the world. This report uses employment and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program for the years 1990 and 20072 to analyze the labor market impact and contribution of these institutions of higher education to the Boston area economy.
The analysis indicates a strong and steady growth in both wages and employment, with job creation in colleges and universities almost double the rate for total private employment. Wage gains also were higher for those working in colleges and universities than for those in overall private industry. The continuing growth of colleges and universities enhances the quality of the labor force and fuels knowledge-based industries, which are attracted by that quality.
1 According to the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Boston metropolitan area is defined as all cities and towns in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the Boston-Quincy, MA, Metropolitan Division—Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk Counties; Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA, Metropolitan Division—Middlesex County; Essex County, MA, Metropolitan Division—Essex County; and Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH, Metropolitan Division—Rockingham and Strafford Counties.
2 1990 was chosen because it was the earliest year that the QCEW used the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 611310, which includes all private 4-year colleges, universities, and professional schools (for example, business administration, dental, law, and medical schools), as well as theological seminaries, that grant baccalaureate or graduate degrees.
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