Suffolk County, Massachusetts consists of the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Revere. According to the Pioneer Institute’s MassEconomix website, 644,363 people were employed in Suffolk County in 2020. So which industry is the county’s biggest employer?
Since 2004, the first year in the MassEconomix database, the largest industry sector in Suffolk County has been healthcare and social assistance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the healthcare and social assistance industry sector as trained professionals who work in “establishments providing medical care exclusively, continuing with those providing health care and social assistance, and finally finishing with those providing only social assistance.” In 2010, 122,343 employees worked in healthcare and social assistance, comprising a total of 21.4 percent of the total Suffolk County workforce. By 2020, the number of employees rose to 148,223, or 23 percent of the workforce.
In 2004, the second largest industry sector employer was Finance and Insurance with 69,426 employees. In 2010, Finance and Insurance was still in second place with 69,891 employees, or 12.22 percent of the Suffolk County workforce. After 2010, the number of employees in the sector began to decrease. For example, in 2011 Finance and Insurance lost 995 employees. It lost an additional 2,011 employees in 2012. By 2020, the sector included 67,789 employees, a decline of 10.6 percent since 2008, the highest employment year for the sector.
While the number of Finance and Insurance employees began to decrease, employment in another industry sector – Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (PSTS) – was increasing rapidly. The examples the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides for this category range from legal advice to architectural, engineering, and specialized design; computer services, translation and interpretation; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.” In 2010, PSTS. employed 12,696 fewer residents than the Finance and Insurance sector, but from 2010 onward PSTS grew steadily and by 2012 it had 64,442 employees. From 2012 to 2013 the number of employees increased by 6.4 percent to 68,566 employed, surpassing the Finance and Insurance sector by 2,248 employees and making professional, scientific, and technical services the second largest industry employer in Suffolk County.
Figure 1: Employees by Industry Sector in Suffolk County, MA 2010-2020. Source: Pioneer Institute’s MassEconomix website.
From 2010 to 2020, PSTS employees increased by 67.2 percent while Finance and Insurance declined by almost 3 percent. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services appears to be one of the fastest growing industries in Suffolk County, right behind the healthcare and social services industry. A 2017 WBUR article offers some insight as to why this industry has been growing so rapidly in the past decade. Major technological companies such as PTC, GE, Autodesk, LogMeIn, and Bose have been moving parts of their businesses from suburban areas to Boston. More tech companies, such as Apple, continue to make the move as they plan to add several hundred jobs in the Greater Boston area within the next few years. Amazon plans to add over 3,000 jobs, and Google plans to add over 1,500 new jobs. In the WBUR article, company executives attributed their move to “access to talent, public transportation and a collaborative open-source culture.”
Mitchell Bove is a Roger Perry Government Transparency Intern at the Pioneer Institute for Summer 2022. He is a rising junior at Suffolk University with a major in U.S. History and minors in Media & Film.