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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Where Are We Going?

Left In Lowell

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January 21, 2012

Where Are We Going?

by at 4:04 pm.

My eagle-eyed friend Tim (who does comment here on occasion) spotted this “Communities with the lowest median income” list on Boston.com which I didn’t have time yet to remark on, but thought I would now. Lowell is #17 on the bottom 20 lowest median income list, which given our demographics and history is actually pretty all right, considering.

However, what troubled me was the median income over the decades (one assumes adjusted for inflation).

2009 median income: $56,494
1999 median income: $59,212
1989 median income: $60,789
1979 median income: $53,108
30-year change: 6.4 percent

I was left wondering, how much of the loss of buying power that the median income in Lowell saw since 1989 is part of the overall erosion of the middle class in the entire US during that time, and how much of it is a local phenomenon of job losses, or a shift in of types of jobs offered here, or something else entirely.

I don’t need or want Lowell to be a rich man’s haven (not a big fan of “Mills to Martinis”). I like that our status as a not-so-wealthy small city attracts immigrants and artists, and that it is a place for a business to get its start. But the loss of income over time is a disturbing trend, and one we need to try to understand better as we move into another decade.

One Response to “Where Are We Going?”

  1. evelyn Says:

    I agree that Lowell needs to do something to reverse the downward slip it has been on for the last 20 years. Lowell’s neighborhoods, and the city as a whole, have not been very successful at holding onto the next generation of success. While the high-school has certainly turned out some very good students, a large number of them may stay in the area but move to the surrounding suburbs. Lowell is not a destination city for young professionals and its middle class has continually moved North (most of my co-workers are originally from Lowell and now live in Pelham - a town with double digit population growth for the last 4 census counts while Lowell declined in population but for the Cambodian influx in the 1980s). The city is struggling for something to make people want to stay and buy a home here.

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