The economy is primarily based on agriculture with rice, corn, vegetables, root crops, watermelons, mangoes as major products. The fishery sector, once a vibrant source of food and income needs rehabilitation after the onslaught of lahar flows resulting from the Mount Pinatubo eruption. There is a growing retail and service sector in the poblacion along the national highway. Light industries are yet to evolve in the municipality to generate much needed employment. Ilocano is commonly spoken, with Tagalog and English as official languages used for secondary education, business and governance.
The early settlers in the area were migrants from the Ilocos region, who cleared the land and planted a certain type of tobacco known as "Muskada". The name of the place was originally derived from the crop grown and later rephrased to Moncada, in honor of a Spanish nobility. In the early 19th century, a revolutionary hero Don Silvino Lopez and his wife Magdalena Espejo Lopez became prime movers of development and progress in the new municipality, along with the Morales, Obillo, Cuchapin, Atencio, Marzan, Caparas and Sto. Domingo families among others. The Chinese community led by the Lao and Co families likewise contributed significantly to the economic development and welfare of the community in later years.
During World War 2, the town produced war heroes: Captain Ablang of the Philippine Scouts who was killed in action, Macario Peralta who was elected Senator and served as defense secretary, and Antonio E. Lopez popularly known as "Kamote", who defeated an Aquino-Cojuangco candidate for the post of Tarlac governor in the 1949 election. The golden age of Moncada is best remembered during this period, after the war to the late 1960s, when debutantes and guests from Manila and beyond, along with the townspeople would congregate at the town plaza to celebrate various festivals and events. Life then was not much of a struggle and food came in plenty. Local leaders serve at the pleasure of the electorates, who had utmost regard for "delicadeza" and opportunities were made available to those who work for it.
The struggle against the authoritarian regime realigned the political forces in Tarlac by early 1980's, with a young maverick of the Lopez-Roy political clan by the name of Manny S.D. Lopez, shifting support to the rival Aquino-Cojuangco political clan. In doing so, Moncada is credited as the first municipality in the regime controlled 1st district of Tarlac, to fight for the restoration of democracy and demand justice for the slain opposition leader Ninoy Aquino. The hope for a new beginning unfortunately was lost to decadent ways of less discerning electorates, who consequently were subjected to the quality of governance they deserve. An exodus of bright minds sought and served ideals in other sectors and foreign lands.