• Melissa Rosales

Comparing By the Numbers: Boston vs Washington, DC

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Boston, MA and Washington, DC. are not so different when it comes to population, median age, and number of employees, according to DataUSA. Washington, DC. has a higher population of 693,972 while Boston has 683,015. Median age in Washington DC is higher by 1.7, while number of employees in Boston is higher by 2,822.

One major distinguishing factor is the build up of each city’s population. Boston’s population is predominantly white (43.9% of citizens being white alone) but Washington DC is predominantly black (45.3% of citizens being Black or African American alone). Based on geography, these numbers are not that surprising.

A lot of numbers in the DataUSA comparison aren’t surprising. Especially when it came to most specialized jobs in Boston and Washington, DC. Compared to other places, Boston has a “unusually high number of residents” working as Life, Physical, & Social Science occupations. Occupations such as doctors, scientists, and researchers.

Washington DC, has a higher number of residents working as Legal Occupations such as lawyers. Washington DC is the capital of the United States, where the White House is.

Boston is a city of many medical firsts since 1846 when William Morton demonstrated the use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic in Massachusetts General Hospital. The city also hosts more than 20 hospitals, two of which (Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham Women’s Hospital) consistently place in the U.S. News & World Report for best hospitals honor roll.

The facts are obvious but when compared to other numbers, there’s more to discover.

According to Washington Examiner, in every 12 residents of Washington, DC, there is one lawyer. In American Bar Association’s National Lawyer Population Survey of 2019, District of Columbia ranked sixth highest number of active lawyers in a state with a 4.4% increase compared to last year. Legal Occupations is actually Boston’s fifth most specialized occupation in DataUSA. This is similarly shown in the population survey where Massachusetts ranked eighth. However, there is a -0.3% decline compared to last year.

The Greater Boston metro area ranked number two in WalletHub’s list of overall best places to find a job for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. Washington, DC placed 32. The methodology compares four categories: Professional Opportunities, STEM-Friendliness, and Quality of Life. Boston ranked number one in “STEM-Friendliness” category, while Washington DC was number 80. STEM-Friendliness focuses on quality and quantity of engineering schools, number of tech meet ups and more.

However, in DataUSA the second most specialized occupation in Washington, DC is Life, Physical, & Social Science Occupations. This may come out of left field, but in the WalletHub’s list, Washington, DC is second in thee professional opportunities category. Professional Opportunities category gives points to number of job openings for STEM graduates, STEM employment growth, annual median salary and more. Boston placed in fifth for the category. Although the ranks are both high, Washington, DC clearly has an edge when it comes to employment growth.

Washington, DC and Boston, MA are cities built with a lot of history and opportunity. At first glance, one can easily rule out one being the city of law and the other being the city of science, but through comparisons with different surveys and statistics, these cities are not so after all.