Caring4Carlisle examines demographics, quality-of-life issues

Understanding the needs of Carlisle residents, how those needs may change in the coming years and what public actions may best improve townspeople’s social, emotional, spiritual and physical health are goals of the Caring4Carlisle (C4C) project. This effort has been undertaken by the C4C Committee, under the umbrella of the Board of Health and in conjunction with the Council on Aging (COA), Gleason Library and the Planning Board. 

A Community Health Needs Assessment produced by the group notes that quality of life issues are linked to public health. “It was determined that the C4C initiative would be aimed at improving ‘quality of life’ in Carlisle through identifying features of the community that promote healthy living as well as those that impede health and wellness.” 

The C4C Committee hired consultant Caitlin Coyle from the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston to prepare the report, based on demographic data, the results of an online survey taken by 480 Carlisle residents, as well as the comments offered by three focus groups. The demographics research gathered quite a bit of information, which is summarized below. The recommendations that resulted from the survey and focus groups will be covered in a future article. 

Much of the data about population characteristics was extracted from the “American Community Survey, 2011-2015 — 5 Year Pop by ageEstimates,” based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Given the relatively large number of residents in the 50 to 59 age range, the over 60 population is expected to grow, with seniors expected to make up as much as 35% of the town’s residents by 2030. This is a significant shift from the 20% who were aged 60 or above in 2010.

The report states that Carlisle’s ethnic distribution is 87% white, 9% Asian, less than 1% black and 3% listed as “other.” Roughly 13% of Carlisle residents are foreign born. Of these, 2/3 are adults between 18 and 64, while almost 30% are 65 or older. Only 5% of those born outside the U.S. are youth age 17 or younger. Chinese is the primary language spoken in the home in approximately 4% of Carlisle households. 

Carlisle residents are highly educated. The report estimates that 96% of Carlisle adults between 25 and 44 and 86% of those aged 45 to 64 have at least one college or professional degree. Two thirds of seniors 65 and up have also earned degrees.

Employment by ageThe large majority of Carlisle residents work either full- or part-time, including many teens and seniors. The report listed the employment distribution by age, based on the American Community Survey data for 2015 (see table at right.) 

Roughly 16% of those in the labor force work from home. Those who work away from the home have an average daily commute of 35 minutes, with less than 1% using public transportation.

Housing costs, income levels

The report found that many households pay over 30% of their income for housing—51% of those who rent and 28% of homeowners. Overall the median household income was estimated to be $166K in 2015. However, households headed by someone 25 to 44 earned a median income of $181K while those aged 45 to 64 earned $192K. Seniors aged 65 and older had a median household income of $109K.

For those individuals with year-round full-time employment, the median salary for men in 2015 was about $150K versus $118K for women. The median earnings for both part-time and full-time work was almost $118K for men versus $52K for women.

The C4C Needs Assessment is available at Gleason Library. ∆