The City tracks economic conditions that show trends in our overall fiscal health. New Bedford’s debt profile, as well as annual new growth, total valuation, property types, employment data and residential sales data all help to illustrate a picture of a city that continues to experience a period of steady economic growth.
New Bedford's Debt Profile
The City Council adopted an organization-wide debt management policy in November 2013. Included in the policy are a series of indicators intended to determine the appropriateness of assuming additional tax-supported general obligation debt:
- Outstanding debt as a percentage of per capita income – The policy target is 6% or less.
- Outstanding debt as a percentage of assessed valuation – The policy target is 3% or less.
- Annual debt service as a percentage of the General Fund operating budget – The policy target is 10% or less.
New Growth / Total Valuation
New Growth is additional tax revenue generated by new construction, renovations and other increases in the property tax base during a calendar year. It does not include value increases caused by normal market forces or by revaluations. Between FY 2015 and FY 2018, the City of New Bedford’s tax base grew by 44%. Similarly total valuation, which represents assessed value, has also grown by 11% in the same time frame.
Properties by Type
In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, New Bedford’s unemployment rate reached 13.7%. As reflected in the average unemployment rate, which was 6.1% as of FY 2018, as well as in average annual employment, more people are working in New Bedford now than at any point in the last decade.
Home sales and values are among the principal economic indicators used to assess the economic health of a community. The effects of the Great Recession were felt by the housing market in New Bedford the most between 2011 and 2012. Since that time, home sales have risen by 57% and the median sales price of residential properties has increased 29%.