Since we began learning about a Worcester a year ago I’ve looked at a lot of charts and figures like this one, trying to better understand the city and its different sub-communities. This chart reflects the commute time for people in our zip code and is part of a larger array of information I went through with the group that is helping us start Grace Pres. Worcester. From the beginning we’ve known we need to be more specific than saying “We’re here to serve Worcester.” So, we’re narrowing. We’ve been looking more specifically at two zip codes, one of in which we live, the other which is close and for which we have affinity. So here is a summary of a few of the important demographics along with some implications. If the hard data isn’t your fancy, then just ski down to some of the implications.
Population: 42,000 total with an even split between males and females.
Age distribution: There is a significant spike at college age, a down turn in the mid twenties, an uptick in the thirties and then stability until age 65 at which point there is a decline.
Marriage: there are significant populations of both married and single adults in this area. While a portion of the single population is due to the many college students, there are many singles outside of this demographic.
Income: Within this area there are sub-sections whose household income is near $30,000 and others nearly four times higher. The median income for these zip codes is $60,000 and $40,000 respectively.
Education: While ~90% of students complete high school only 40% of the population achieves a bachelor’s degree. Of this 40% nearly half achieve an advanced degree. There is significant diversity in regards to education, even at the elementary and high school grades (20%, 40%, respectively, at private schools).
Ethnic diversity: Within these zip codes some subsections are predominately white (70-90%) whereas others are predominately minorities (hispanic, black, and asian). As a whole there is significant diversity (~25% of population non-white) but this will vary by neighborhood.
Locals: In the past five years ~80% of current residents have lived in Worcester County while ~90% have lived in Massachusetts. Thus, despite some transition or moving the vast majority of those living here are from the area.
Commute time: The median commute for residents is 21mintues with 2/3 of the population commuting less than 25minutes.
Density: 3,900 / 5,800 per square mile
Homes: about a 1/3 in 01602 and ½ in 01609 rent and 2/3 of homes were built before 1939.
Future trends: Until 2030 Worcester is expected growth by ~7%, reaching 195,000 as a total popluation. This exceeds the MA average (4.4%) but is under national averages (14%). Between 2000 and 2010 the African American population of Worcester increased by 77%, the Latino population increased by 45% and the white population decreased by 5%.
–Engage diversity and disparity: In this small area of the city (<10mi2) not only are there a variety of people, but there are significant differences in income, housing, and education. The ideal would be to reflect a measure of this diversity in the church and through Christian friendship help each other with the unique challenges of our specific point in life.
–College students: There is a great opportunity to reach college students but we need to be cautious about building the church too much around a college ministry. According to population data it seems that many students leave Worcester following graduation with a good proportion returning in their thirties.
–Locals: Many in this area of Worcester have local or regional roots. Finding a way to work through existing relational networks will be important. On the other hand it seems that these networks could be isolated from each other among smaller sub-communities within his area. So it will be important to have different starting points or nodes so that we can connect across different types of people.