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HomeBankersReport: Home Prices Help Drive Inequality in Cambridge

Report: Home Prices Help Drive Inequality in Cambridge

Cambridge City Hall. Photo by Andrew Cosand | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Cambridge has the highest share of residents employed in high-tech, biotech, engineering and life sciences jobs among 25 “innovation cities” nationwide, and is also home to sizable and widespread income inequality, according to a new report.

About 22 percent of Cantabrigians work in the innovation sector, nearly 7 percentage points higher than second-place Seattle among the cities examined by the Cambridge Community Foundation in a 56-page report published Wednesday.

In Cambridge, households in the top quintile earned an average of $343,000 per year in 2018, while those in the bottom quintile earned $13,000 per year. That gap is the seventh-largest among the 25 innovation cities.

The report pointed to housing costs, lack of access to internet connections and food insecurity as other points of evidence that disparities are widespread in Cambridge even after the city’s economic growth in the past decade.

The median sale price for a condominium in Cambridge was $801,000 in 2020, up 5.39 percent from 2019, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. The city’s median single-family price was $1.62 million, up 10.17 percent from 2019.

“Cambridge is booming, but who is the innovation economy working for?” CCF President Geeta Pradhan said in a statement.

Pradhan described the report as “a call to action” for entities and residents across Cambridge to reexamine how to reduce inequalities and spread prosperity more evenly.

“What is at stake is the very soul of Cambridge, a city celebrated for its diversity, creativity, and innovative spirit,” Pradhan said. “If any city can solve these systemic problems, given our size, our assets, and our will, it is Cambridge.”

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