Demographics and Statistics FAQ

The source for all the information found below is the U. S. Bureau of the Census, unless stated otherwise. Most basic population count data is from the 2010 U. S. Census. Measures of population characteristics come from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey program (ACS). ACS values come from the five year data set, the most recent being 2014-18, and are updated annually. Employment information from the Massachusetts Executive Office of  Labor and Workforce Development provides quarterly updates for job counts and monthly updates for unemployment.

What is the population of Cambridge?

The 2020 U. S. Census recorded 118,403 residents, a 12.6% increase from 2010. The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 105,162 residents, a 3.8% increase from the 2000 U. S. Census.  The 2000 decennial census found that the population of Cambridge was 101,355.  The population of Cambridge in 1990 was 95,802, up from 95,322 in 1980 and down from the 1950 peak of 120,740.

The Census Bureau releases estimates of the population between decennial censuses. The 2020 population estimate, current as of July 1, 2021, totaled 119,192.  The 2016 -2020 American Community Survey provides a population estimate of 117,822.

How racially and ethically diverse is Cambridge?

The 2020 U. S. Census found that 66.1% of Cambridge residents identify as White, 10.7% as Black, 16.8% as Asian or Pacific islander and 6.4% identified as some other race or a member of two or more races. Hispanics total 9.5% of the population. 59.8% of the population identify as both White and Non-Hispanic. Among those under eighteen 46.3% are White Non-Hispanics.

The 2010 U. S. Census found that 57.3% of Cambridge residents were White, 10.6% Black, 19.2% Asian or Pacific Islander, 3.4%% classified themselves as a member Some Other Race, and 9.2% are a member of two or more races. Hispanics totaled 9.1% of the population. 55.4% of the total population was both White and Non-Hispanic. Among those under eighteen 42.0% were both White and Non-Hispanic.

Sixty-eight percent of 2000 residents were White, 12% Black, 12% Asian or Pacific Islander, 3% described their race as "Other" and 5% selected two or more races. Seven percent of all residents were of Hispanic background. Sixty-five percent of 2000 residents were White non-Hispanic. Slightly less than 50% of residents under eighteen were White non-Hispanic.

Seventy-five percent of all 1990 residents were White; 14% Black, 8% Asian and 3% of other races, including American Indian. Seven percent of all residents were of Hispanic background. Seventy-two percent of 1990 residents were White non-Hispanic.

Hispanics can be members of any racial group and are measured separately from race.

How many households reside in Cambridge?

The 2020 Census recorded 49,564 occupied housing units, which is equivalent to households. This is an increase of 12.6% from 2010. (Information about household characteristics is forthcoming.) 

The 2010 Census found 44,032 households in Cambridge, including 17,420 family households or 39.6% or the total. The 2000 U. S. Census recorded 42,615 households in Cambridge, including 17,595 families, 41.3% of the total.  The 1990 U. S. Census recorded 39,405 households in Cambridge, including 17,575 families, 44.6% of the total.

The 2016 -2020 American Community Survey reported 47,449 households, including 20,148 family households or 42% of the total.

What is the average size of Cambridge households?

Results reported by the 2020 Census to date found that the average household size came to 2.19 persons.  This figure might be subject to revision by forthcoming 2020 Census data releases.

The average household size reported by the decennial census was 2.00 persons in 2010, 2.03 persons in 2000, and 2.08 persons in 1990.

The 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey reports that the average household size was 2.13 persons and the average family size was 2.82 persons.

How many Cambridge residents reside in group quarters?

As of the 2020 Census, 16,550 residents reside in group quarters or 13.9% of the total population.  As of the 2010 Census 17,102 Cambridge residents or 16.3% of the total, lived in group quarters. As of the 2000 Census 14,663 Cambridge residents, or 14.5%, lived in group quarters.

Residents of group quarters include all persons residing in dormitories, hospitals, nursing homes, jails and group homes. All persons who do not reside in group quarters reside in households. The majority of group quarters residents, over 93% of those recorded in 2020, were college dormitory residents.

The 2021 Town Gown Reports filed by educational institutions in Cambridge reported 5,114 dormitory residents.  This number is unusually low, due to pandemic conditions.

How densely populated in Cambridge?

In 2020 Cambridge had a population density of 18,529 persons per square mile and 8,432 housing units per square mile. These figures are equivalent to 29 people and 13 housing units per acre.  As of 2020, Cambridge is the ninth most densely populated city in the United States.

How highly educated are Cambridge residents?

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey data on the level of education, 79.1% of the population over 25 has either a four year bachelor degree or a graduate degree, 9.7% has either an Associate degree or some college course work, 6.8% has a high school diploma and 4.5% does not have a high school diploma.

How many Cambridge residents are current college or graduate students?

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, 24.8% of the population 18 or older is enrolled full-time or part-time in a college or graduate school degree program. 

The 2021 Annual Town Gown Reports submitted by Harvard University, Hult International Business School, Lesley University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology indicate that these institutions have 12,635 undergraduate students and 21,810 graduate students attending.  Of these, 3,706 undergraduates and 8,037 graduate students reside in Cambridge, either in institutional housing or off campus.  The number residing in Cambridge has been depressed due to the effects of the pandemic and is likely to rise substantially in the near future.

How many Cambridge residents were born in a foreign country?

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, 29.2%% of Cambridge residents are foreign born and 11.1% are naturalized citizens. Cambridge has long served as a port of entry for immigrants from around the world.

What are the most common ancestries of Cambridge residents?

Major ancestry groups reported by the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey include Irish (10.6%), Italian (7.9%), English (7.6%), German (7.4%), Polish (3.0%), West Indian (2.8%), Sub-Saharan African (2.6%), French (2.5), Russian (2.4%), Arab (1.9%), Scottish (1.8%), and Portuguese (1.7%). Note that the Census allows people to claim more than one ancestry.

What languages, other than English, are most often spoken in Cambridge?

Major languages and language groups other than English reported by the 2015 - 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample include Spanish (7.4%), Chinese (5.7%), French, including Haitian Kreyol, (3.6%), Indic Languages (3.8%), African Languages (2.2%), Korean (1.5%), German (1.4%), Portuguese (1.0%), and Arabic (1.0%).

The Cambridge Public School Department reports that for the 2021 - 2022 school year over 100 students speak the following foreign languages at home: Spanish (5.85%), Amharic (3.7%), Bengali (2.4%), Arabic (2.2%), Haitian Kreyol (2.0%), and Chinese (1.6%).

What is the median income of Cambridge residents?

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, median family income totaled $142,889, up from $92,609 during 1999 and $80,828 during 1989 in inflation adjusted dollars. This represents an increase of 54% from 1999 and 77% from 1989 in inflation adjusted dollars. The City's mean, or average, family income totaled $193,036 for the same period.

The 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey indicates that the state median family income was $106,526 and the national median income was $80,069.

Cambridge median household incomes rose from $74,743 during 1999 in inflation adjusted dollars to $107,490 in 2016 - 2020, a 44% increase. In 1989 median household income stood at $66,983 in inflation adjusted dollars, indicating an increase of 60% since that time. The City's mean, or average, household income totaled $145,972 for the same period.

The 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey indicates that the state median household was $84,385 and the national median household income was $64,994.

All figures adjusted to the 2020 level using the change in the Research Series Consumer Price Index for all urban wage earners (CPI-U-RS).

The U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development estimates that the 2021 Metropolitan Boston area median income for a family of four is $120,800 per year.

What is the poverty rate in Cambridge?

According to the 2016 - 2020  American Community Survey 12.0% of all persons and 6.4% of all families had incomes below the poverty line.  Among families, 10.3% of those with children under 18 and 32.5% of female headed families with children under 18 fell under the poverty line.  12.2% of all persons under 18 and 9.8% of all persons 65 or older fall under the poverty limit.

How many housing units are found in Cambridge? How many are affordable?

Using information compiled from the Cambridge Assessing database, Inspectional Services Department building permits, Planning Board submittals, and university housing sources, the Community Development Department tallies 57,585 housing units, current as of July 1, 2021. This figure includes development since 2010 and units currently under construction. In addition, the total includes all graduate student apartment-style housing owned by universities, whether or not the units are tax exempt or counted as housing units by the U. S. Census Bureau.

As of June 30, 2021, the City's affordable housing stock included 8,517 housing units of all types, including rental and homeownership units affordable at a variety of income levels, with long term or permanent restrictions to ensure affordability.  This represents 14.79% of the total housing stock recorded by the Community Development Department on that date.

The Census Bureau recorded 53,907 housing units while conducting the 2020 Census.

How many Cambridge units are rented and how many are owner occupied?

As reported by the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, 65.1% of occupied units are rented and 34.9% are owner occupied (including owner occupied condominiums).

What is the mix of Cambridge residential building types?

According the Cambridge Community Development Department, as of June 30, 2021 single family dwellings accounted for 6.5% of housing units, two family buildings for 12.1%, three family buildings for 10.8%, four to six unit buildings for 8.8%, buildings with over six units up to 50 units 18.3% and buildings with 51 or units 43.4%. Condominiums, regardless of their building type, included for 26.8% of the housing stock. Units located in mixed use buildings were 12.6% of the stock.

How much does it cost to buy a home in Cambridge?

The 2021 median market rate sales price of a single family home was $1,690,000, for a two family $1,500,000, and for a condominium $810,500.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Cambridge?

According to data collected by an MAPC-led consortium, as of February 2022, the monthly median asking rent for market rate Cambridge apartment was $2,400 for a one bedroom unit, $2,950 for a two bedroom unit and $3,600 for a three bedroom unit. Note that these estimated median rents reflect advertised costs, and they may not reflect the actual rates paid for units surveyed and do not include landlord givebacks. These rates also do not reflect median charges for the entire population of Cambridge apartments, including long term and subsidized tenants.

How many people work in Cambridge?

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance reported an average of 136,419 jobs in Cambridge during the second quarter of 2021. This figure includes only employees for whom the unemployment tax is paid; it does not include self-employed persons or sole proprietors.

The 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey reports that 142,950 persons worked in Cambridge. The ACS figure includes all those employed in the city, including the self-employed, sole proprietors, and other categories of workers who are ineligible for unemployment compensation.

Note that both these figures represent persons who work in Cambridge, not employed City residents.

What are the predominant industries in Cambridge?

In the second quarter of 2021, according to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, 39.2% of employed persons in Cambridge worked in Professional and Technical Services.  Of those 25.3% work in Scientific Research and Development Services and 6.5% in Computer System Design.

Other major employers include 22.4% in Educational Services, 9.1% in Health Care and Social Assistance, 5.6% in Information Services, 4.3% in Accommodation and Food Services, 3.2% in Retail Trade, and 3.2% in Financial Services.

How many business are located in Cambridge?

On average during the second quarter of 2021, according to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, 5,474 private business establishments paid unemployment tax for employees. This figure does not include self-employed persons. 

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, 1,813 Cambridge residents are self-employed in an unincorporated business and 1,247 are self-employed in an incorporated business.

What is the average annual wage in Cambridge?

During the second quarter of 2021, according to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, the average annual wage  earned in Cambridge for a full time job was $152,416. 

The 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey reports that median earnings for a full-time worker totaled $79,717.

What are the predominant occupations of Cambridge residents?

According to the 2016 - 2020 American Community Survey, many Cambridge residents work in Computer, Engineering, and Science (23.7%), Education, Training and Library (16.0%), Management, Occupations (12.9%), Business and Financial Operations (9.6%), Service Occupations (7.7%), and Office and Administrative Support (6.4%). 

What is the unemployment rate of Cambridge residents?

During January 2022, according to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, the unemployment rate in Cambridge stood at 2.7% (unadjusted). Note that the rate prior to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic stood at 1.8% in February 2020.

For More Information

For more information about socioeconomic and demographic statistics about Cambridge, please contact Cliff Cook, ccook@cambridgema.gov, Senior Planning Information Manager, at 617/349-4656.

Where should I go to find more data or create my own maps?

Visit Other Data Sources or Mapping Tools for more information about how to conduct your own analysis. 

For mapping data for use with GIS software visit the City's GIS Data page.