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Harvard has been named the largest employer in the City of Cambridge for the twenty-second consecutive year.
The University was given this title by the Cambridge Community Development Department — the city’s planning agency — which releases a list of Cambridge’s top 25 employers each year. To effectively compare the city’s employers, the department counts Full Time Equivalents, which they define as employees who work 35 to 40 hours a week.
In 2021, Harvard employed 11,867 FTEs, a stark decrease from the previous year’s 12,858.
University spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke wrote in an emailed statement that Harvard has aided in efforts to “advance educational opportunities, support economic development, and address a range of community needs including affordable housing, food insecurity, sustainability, and climate change.”
“Harvard is proud of its role as a cornerstone institution in Cambridge as well as its partnerships and shared commitments with city government and local non-profits,” she wrote.
The second and third largest employers were MIT and the City of Cambridge, respectively. MIT employed 8,777 FTEs, while the City employed 3,564.
The annual report features “regulars” that continue to appear on the listing year after year. Since 1986, Harvard and MIT have held the top two positions on the list, with MIT surpassing Harvard only twice. The City of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Hospital, and Draper Laboratories have also held positions on the list since 1986.
Beyond the regulars, 67 other employers have appeared on the list throughout the years. These organizations spread across a variety of industries, including internet and software innovation, electronics and healthcare technology, and educational services.
Nearly half of the top employers — 11 out of 25 — are affiliated with the city’s hub of biotechnology companies, which have received criticism from local housing advocates.
Executive director of Cambridge Local First — a non-profit network of local businesses — Theodora M. “Theo” Skeadas ’16 said in an interview that the need for biotechnology employees to live close to where they work has raised housing prices.
“The reality is that a lot more jobs have been added to Cambridge than housing units,” Skeadas said.
She noted workers in biotechnology tend to outearn many other Cambridge residents, inflating local home values.
“I definitely think that having a booming biotech industry in Cambridge has made it more difficult for people who don't make very high incomes at the biotech level, which can easily start at $200,000,” she said. “These are really inflated incomes.”
“It's made it harder for people to live in Cambridge, and rents have gone up for sure,” she added.
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