Entries by Emily Donovan

A Closer Look at Public Higher Education Employees in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is home to many colleges and universities, both public and private. Over the last 10 years, the average pay of public higher education employees in the Commonwealth has increased by 38.43%. In 2010, the average salary of these employees was $37,827. The average salary increased to $52,363 by 2020. However, the number of employees in Massachusetts public higher education systems has decreased by 4.43% from 2010 to 2020. In 2010, there were 47,758 higher education employees, and by 2020, there were 45,643 employees. However, this decreasing trend was not consistent across all 10 of these years (Figure 1). Between 2019 and 2020 alone, there was a 9.13% decrease in the number of higher education employees. Figure 1. The change […]

Understanding Property Tax, Property Value, and Tax Levy Trends in Massachusetts

According to Pioneer Institute’s MassAnalysis tool, single family property tax bills in Massachusetts increased dramatically between 2003 and 2020. In 2003, the average single family property tax bill was $3,094. By 2020, the average property tax bill had nearly doubled to $5,969. In general, property taxes represent the largest source of revenue for Massachusetts municipalities. Typically, differences in property values help inform tax rate discrepancies. For example, municipalities with low property values need higher tax rates to raise the same revenue as higher property value communities. Other factors, such as assessment rate and property tax exemptions or abatements also impact property tax bills. The five municipalities with the highest average property tax bills for a single family home in 2020 […]

A Closer Look at the Healthcare and Social Assistance Industry in Massachusetts

From 2001 to 2019, far more employees worked in healthcare and social assistance than in any other industry in Massachusetts, and the trend suggests this field may still be growing. According to Pioneer Institute’s MassEconomix tool, the number of employees in this industry has been generally increasing across the state. This sector includes hospitals, physicians’ practices, medical laboratories, youth and family services, and nursing homes. In 2001, there were 427,525 healthcare and social assistance workers. By 2019, the number reached 658,070, a 53.93% increase.  This correlates with the growing number of healthcare and social assistance organizations. In 2001, there were 6.30 facilities per 1,000 people. By 2019, this number had almost doubled to 12.14 facilities per 1,000 people, creating more […]

School Expenditures in the 2019 and 2020 School Years

The Massachusetts K-12 school system has been regarded as the most highly ranked system by the US News & World Report for years. According to Pioneer Institute’s MassReportCards tool, the ways in which Massachusetts schools spend money has been changing in the past few school years. The overall spending in Massachusetts school districts has slightly increased from 2019 to 2020 (Note: the 2019 school year represents the school year from July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019, and the 2020 school year represents the school year from July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020). In 2019, districts spent a total of $16,884,101,109 on school expenses, while in 2020, spending amounted to $16,929,248,719, an increase of about 0.26%. (Note: the rate of this increase in […]

Municipalities of Massachusetts with the Highest Debt Service Expenditure

In the public sector, debt service refers to both repayments and interest paid “on long term obligations of public debtors and long-term private obligations guaranteed by a public entity.” In Massachusetts, debt service expenditures differ among municipalities based on the characteristics of the locality, including size and budget.  According to Pioneer Institute’s MassAnalysis tool, in 2019 the five municipalities with the highest debt service expenditures (in dollars) were Boston, Worcester, Cambridge, Peabody, and Lowell (respectively). In 2019, Boston spent the most ($182,470,769) on debt service (Figure 1), representing 5% of its operating budget. In the same year, Worcester spent $90,753,444, or 12% of its operating budget on debt service. Cambridge spent $68,410,826, representing 10% of its budget. Peabody spent $52,270,825 […]

The Effects of the COVID 19 Pandemic on MBTA Light Rail Ridership

In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on public transportation. According to Pioneer Institute’s site, MBTA Analysis, nationwide ridership on light rail transit decreased by historic amounts between 2019 and 2020. For example, the New Jersey Transit Corporation reported a 93% decrease in unlinked light rail passenger trips in April 2019 and April 2020. The Maryland Transit Administration saw a 92% decrease in light rail ridership in that time period. Additionally, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) reported a 95% decrease in light rail ridership. The MBTA light rail transit includes the Green Line and a small part of the Red Line (from Ashmont to Mattapan). Throughout the pandemic, many service cuts occurred, resulting in less frequent […]

COVID-19 and Unemployment Rates in the Cape and Islands 

  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on unemployment rates across the United States. Previous analyses of the effects of COVID on employment rates by Gregory Sullivan and Rebekah Paxton of Pioneer Institute have suggested that occupations in the hospitality sector (such as food services, accomodation, arts, recreation, and entertainment) have been heavily affected by the COVID pandemic. Because of the high concentration of these types of jobs in the Cape and Islands, this area has experienced a large increase in unemployment rates as a result of the pandemic. The most current data on unemployment rates in Massachusetts seem to support this claim. Pioneer Institute’s COVID unemployment tracker provides estimates of unemployment rates in Massachusetts. The tracker indicates […]