City leaders in Somerville are partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, the Cambridge Health Alliance, Greentown Labs, Taza Chocolate, and Somerville Community Corporation to implement the Pocket Change: Creating a Somerville that Works for All Initiative, primarily aimed at reducing high unemployment among low-income youth through a new innovative model for infusing traditional workforce development programming with mobile technology and social media. The model will blend micro-jobs, part-time jobs and training into a seamless system to build work experience and information about job candidates.
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At roughly the same time, two external factors boosted the efforts of city officials and residents to spur Somerville's resurgence: 1) the subway line extension from Harvard Square through Somerville to the Fresh Pond area, and 2) rapid increases in Harvard Square real estate prices. The city has also benefited from proximity to Harvard University and Tufts University. Although the city has faced challenges such as assimilating its high percentage of foreign-born residents and making aging infrastructure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Somerville has tackled numerous obstacles with innovative initiatives.
Census data show that Somerville experienced rapid population growth during the 50-year period between 1880 and 1930 when it went from 24,933 to a peak of 103,908. The 2010 census put the population at 75,754. Somerville has the greatest density of any city in New England.
|Persons under 18 years||12.1%||21.7%|
|Persons 65 years and over||9.1%||13.8%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||0.3%||0.3%|
|Black or African-American alone||6.8%||6.6%|
|Hispanic or Latino||10.6%||9.6%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander||<0.1%||0.0%|
|Two or more races||3.6%||2.6%|
|White alone (not Hispanic or Latino)||69.1%||76.1%|
More than one-half of Somerville adults have at least a bachelor's degree (52%), and nearly a quarter of households have incomes of $100,000 or more. Nevertheless, the city's median income ($59,000) is substantially lower than the 2011 state median household income ($62,859)—or the median income for Massachusetts smaller cities ($71,522). The city's over-65 population declined by more than 2,000 people (nearly 25%) over the past decade.
"Three-fourths of the meat-packing of the Commonwealth is carried on in the six packing-houses of the city. In the order of their importance, other leading industries are: slaughtering, bakery products, confectionary, foundry and machine-shop products, beverages, structural iron and steel, printing, automobile assembling, coffee-roasting, furniture making, and household and photographic equipment.
Because of its definitely residential character, self-rule is prized in Somerville. It is this love for self-government that gives the city its vigor and its virility."
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011, 26.0% of Somerville residents are foreign born, compared with 14.7% statewide .
Although high compared with the state, the percentage of foreign-born residents is dropping. It went down 11.9% between 2000 and 2011. Also, the percentage of people who speak English less than “very well” dropped from 16.8% to 12.7%, a drop of 24.4% between 2000 and 2011. The American Community Survey also shows that:
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, as of June 2013, Somerville’s unemployment rate was 5.4%, compared with 7.4% statewide. Nearly 30% of Somerville’s working residents commute to jobs in Boston, and just over 20% work in Cambridge. Clark University researchers found that Somerville’s five largest employers are:
There are a number of promising economic and community development initiatives that are either in the works or recently completed: