Longtime Mayor Tom Menino’s decision not to run for reelection is a milestone in Boston’s political history. Yet his two decades in office need not be judged by anecdotes and fond memories alone, because his tenure has been long enough to yield some meaningful data. In his case, the numbers look quite positive.
In 1993, Boston was still in the throes of the de-industrialization that had traumatized all of America’s older, colder cities. In that year, there were 485,000 employees of private businesses in Suffolk County — of which Boston forms by far the largest part — who collectively earned $26.6 billion in current dollars. In 2010, Suffolk had 556,000 employees, who earned $42 billion. Measured by real earnings, Boston’s economy has grown by 58 percent over Menino’s tenure; on average, each worker in Suffolk County now earns 38 percent more.