Equity and Innovation Report

Chapter 3: Fourth Quintile

The Fourth Quintile - Cambridge’s Innovation Workforce
THE FOURTH QUINTILE Cambridge’s Innovation Workforce


The fourth 20 percent of the population by income looks much like it did a decade ago, with higher-income households of predominantly white, well-educated, mid-career professionals. But subtle differences reflect the city’s broader changes: the loss of families with children has increased the number of “double-income, no kids” households; middle-skilled adults have been replaced by those with higher credentials; and, most notably, the fourth quintile is now the heart of the innovation-economy workforce.


Neighborhoods with the greatest share of households in the fourth quintile

Infographic: West Cambridge 22.5%.
Infographic: North Cambridge 22.4%.
Infographic: Agassiz 20.3%.

Sources: 2005–2009 and 2014–2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Chart 3.4: Share of Working Adults Employed in Innovation Occupations, 2018

The fourth quintile is the core of Cambridge’s innovation economy workforce.

People and Households (2009-2018)

The fourth quintile remains overwhelmingly white. Black and Latinx residents are significantly underrepresented, comprising just 5.2 percent and 6.7 percent of the population, respectively. Although this quintile has seen an uptick in millennials aged 25 to 34, mid-career and older adults in the workforce nevertheless make up nearly a third of the population. The share of households with children decreased, while the “double-income, no kids” households rose. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all households are either married couples with no children or nonfamily households not living alone, including unmarried partners and adult roommates.

Over the past decade, the average household income for the fourth quintile of households increased by 23 percent.


Relatively little change in racial/ethnic diversity

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 white non-Latinx went from 73% to 70%, Black stayed at 5%, Asian stayed at 14%, Latinx went from 5% to 7%, Another race/AIAN went from 3% to 4%.


Mostly young workforce

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 under 18 stayed at 14%, 18 to 24 went from 11% to 8%, 25 to 34 went from 38% to 39%, 35 to 64 went from 33% to 32.5%, 65+ went from 5% to 6.5%.

Household Type

More married couples without children

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 families with children went from 24% to 19%, families without children went from 27% to 32%, nonfamilies went from 28.5% to 30%, living alone stayed at 20%.

Sources: 2005–2009 and 2014–2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Housing and Community (2009-2018)

The fourth quintile saw the rise of the high-income renter household and a decreased cost burden for both renters and owners. Household stability is greater than in the lower tiers, with a plurality having lived in their current home two to 10 years (although fewer have lived in their home 10 years or more). Among recent movers, the share from another location in Massachusetts decreased, although this was partially offset by an increase in movers coming from other states.


Increase in renter households

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 renter went from 56% to 61%, owned with a mortgage went from 36% to 30%, owned free and clear went from 8% to 9%.

Cost Burden (>30%)

Very low levels of housing cost burden

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 renter went from 9% to 4%, owner went from 28% to 13%.

Lived in Current Home for:

More mid-term housing stability

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 less than 2 years went from 34.5% to 39%, 2 to 9 years went from 39% to 43%, 10 years or more went from 26% to 18%.

Movers Coming from:

Fewer local movers

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 Massachusetts went from 61% to 53%, other state went from 30.5% to 34%, other country went from 8% to 13%.

Sources: 2005–2009 and 2014–2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Education and Jobs (2009-2018)

The fourth quintile lost most of its low- and middle-skilled adults, whose place has been taken by those with higher educational attainment levels; the share of fourth-quintile adults with a master’s degree or higher rose from 45.6 percent to 56.3 percent over the decade. Most workers are in the private sector. Workers in nonprofits increased slightly; workers in government decreased. Nearly a third of working adults are in innovation-cluster occupations. More than a third of all innovation economy workers are in this quintile.

Educational Attainment

Sharp increase in highly educated adults

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 high school or less went from 10% to 5%, some colleage/associate degree went from 10% to 5%, bachelor's degree went from 35% to 34%, master's + went from 46% to 56%.

Top Occupations

Highest employment in innovation occupations

Infographic: In 2009 innovation 20%, education 15%, management 11%. In 2018 innovation 28%, education 16%, management 13%.

Employment Sector

Largest drop in adults working in government

Infographic: From 2009 to 2018 private went from 53% to 57.5%, nonprofit went from 25% to 28%, government went from 14% to 8%, self-employed went from 8% to 7%.

Sources: 2005–2009 and 2014–2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

We have adjusted the standard naming conventions established by the U.S. Census Bureau in the following ways: “Hispanic/Latino” ethnicity is referred to as “Latinx”; “Black” refers to “Black/African American”; “Asian” includes “Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander”; “Multiracial” refers to “Two or More”; and “Another race/AIAN” includes “Some Other” and American Indian/Alaska Native.” For more about our terminology on race and ethnicity »