Barnstable Area Regional Trends (BART) is a quarterly information product by the Cape Cod Commission identifying economic trends of importance to the region.
Cape Cod is well known for having lots of visitors in the summer months, our “On-season.” Conventional wisdom says there’s little economic activity here in the spring, fall and winter, our “off-season.” When we start connecting some data points, we find the off-season is actually warming up with increasing economic activity. Understanding the Cape’s relationship with the state and national economy adds context to this trend.
It's not surprising that the number of vehicles crossing the Sagamore and Bourne bridges has steadily increased over the past 40 years. What may be surprising is that although overall bridge traffic has been flattening, off-season crossings are increasing more rapidly than summer. Whether it's commuters, tourists, second home owners or increased travel by residents, there's a high correlation between bridge crossings and the Cape's per capita regional domestic product.
The Cape's appetite for dining out is healthy year-round. Unlike the bridge traffic, other seasons are still catching up with summer. Improving meals tax revenue may be a sign of more disposable income for Cape Codders, more visitors or both. Either way, it points to more money circulating through the local economy.
Another indicator of a stronger off-season on the Cape is the amount charged for hotel rooms in the region. A combination of reduced supply of hotel rooms during the off-season and increasing demand could be contributing to rapidly increasing average daily room rates from 2009 to 2014.
SOURCE: Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce
Economic activity on the Cape must be understood in the context of state and national economic trends.
• Our regional gross domestic product (GDP) is highly correlated to the state and national GDP.
• Our per capita GDP is highly correlated with the crossings of both of the Cape’s bridges (91%).
• Trends in bridge traffic and daily room rates indicate a strengthening of our off-season economy, perhaps meal tax collection during the off-season will catch up.
• Strengthening in the “off-season” could indicate a more robust regional economy for Cape Cod.