Greater Boston's housing shortage is holding back our businesses
Business in Boston’s western suburban communities is booming. Our merchants, restaurants owners and other businesses operating in our village centers and commercial districts tell us the year is off to a great start.
But alarmingly many of those same employers say their continued success will largely hinge — not on their ability to make enough sales — but their ability to find enough employees. In fact, keeping and finding talent has reached a crisis level, according to a survey of Newton-Needham Regional Chamber members.
- Sixty-one percent of our members tell us “attracting and retaining workers” is their number one business challenge.
- Workforce worries is an even more pronounced concern for our market’s largest employers: A stunning 89 percent of Newton and Needham businesses with 100-plus employees told us staffing would be critical to their 2019 success.
Local businesses are having trouble filling everything from high-salary tech and life sciences jobs to hourly workers for hotels and restaurants. In some instances, we’ve even seen businesses curtail their hours because of this worker shortage. Others have left the area altogether.
Building more housing for our workforce will benefit our businesses and keep our local economy humming. More local workers will also help alleviate
congestion on our roads, which improves our carbon footprints. And it makes our region more attractive to new employers and helps grow commercial
It’s vital that both Newton and Needham and our neighboring communities seize the opportunity to create workforce housing not just to keep businesses but to attract new companies here as well.
Employers throughout Newton and Needham are paying higher wages to keep their talent, putting them at an economic disadvantage. Workers making between $45,000 and $75,000 often face daunting commutes from Rhode Island, New Hampshire or Western Massachusetts.
That’s why the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber is calling on our municipal and state leaders to develop solutions to this ongoing crisis that threatens the economic stability:
- We support the efforts of Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to develop 185,000 units of housing by 2030.
- We support the creation of affordable multifamily housing units to support the talent required to fill local jobs.
- We support Governor Charlie Baker’s Housing Choice Initiative which empowers cities and towns to plan for new housing production; and proposes legislative changes to deliver smart, effective zoning at the local level.