Innovation Economy Growth Leaves Parts Of State Behind

By Frannie Carr


Aug. 24, 2011

Construction at Cambridge biotech company Genzyme is seen in May, 2008. Companies like Genzyme have helped Greater Boston fare well, but the innovation tide hasn't lifted boats everywhere in Massachusetts. (AP)

BOSTON —The local innovation economy is credited with driving up Greater Boston’s median income by 54 percent over the past three decades.

But according to a new a study by UMass economists and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, incomes in some western parts of the state fell 24 percent over the same period, from $21,000 per year in 1979 to $16,000 today.

In an interview on WGBH's The Emily Rooney show, study co-author and UMass Dartmouth Professor Michael Goodman says the poorest families in Berkshire county and in the Pioneer valley have been hit by a virtual “double whammy.”

"The industry mix that’s allowed the state to grow isn’t really present out there. You don’t have these knowledge intensive, rapidly growing drivers of economic growth in that part of the state," Goodman said.

Another part of the difference, Goodman says, is education. "I think in certainly part of the rural areas and some of the urban areas — and there are exceptions — you don’t have the educationally prepared people you do in many parts of Greater Boston," Goodman said.

Goodman says long-term policy initiatives need to focus on reducing the achievement gap and improving the quality of education in cities and low-income rural areas.

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