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Massachusetts Population Estimates Program

Massachusetts Population Estimates by City and Town

On May 18, 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated population estimates for Massachusetts cities and towns (also called “minor civil divisions” or “MCDs”) for July 1, 2022. This new vintage of estimates is derived from the allocation of the Census Bureau’s 2022 county-level population estimates, released on March 30, 2022, to individual municipalities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 Sub-County Population Estimates, only 6 out of Massachusetts’ 26 cities or towns with populations of 50,000 or more increased in population from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022. Medford led the group in terms of total population gained with an estimated 3,236 person increase over the year and was also the fastest-growing large place in terms of percentage growth, with a 5.2% population increase. Boston ranked 22nd this year among the Massachusetts’ 26 largest municipalities, with a 0.6% population decrease of 3,831 people. 

Many of the town-level trends observed in the V2022 population estimates relate directly to changes in county-level migration and immigration patterns in Massachusetts during and just following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Census 2020 count showed unanticipated, accelerated population growth in the seasonal and rural areas of the state, and domestic migration into the seasonal counties remained very strong in the 2020-2021 estimates year. At the same time, the more urban and most population-dense Massachusetts counties -- especially Suffolk, Middlesex-- experienced greater levels of net domestic out-migration to other U.S. counties in the 2020-2021 year. This urban out-migration included both movement to other Massachusetts counties, which comprised the majority of net movement, and increasing migration to other New England states such as New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island.  While positive immigration historically offsets domestic out-migration in the more urban counties of Massachusetts, in 2020 and 2021, immigration was also greatly reduced, compounding population loss in those counties.
The V2022 Census county estimates indicate that the migration and immigration trends observed in 2020 and 2021 have started to revert back towards pre-pandemic patterns. Immigration has started to rebound, slowing the population loss in the dense, urban counties, while domestic migration has started to edge closer to pre-pandemic trends. While the 2022 estimates show an increase in domestic out-migration for the state as a whole, within Massachusetts they show movement out of the urban counties and into the seasonal counties decreasing compared to the previous two years. Finally, as the state population continues to age, half of Massachusetts counties experienced more deaths than births in the 2021-2022 estimates year, which also contributed to population loss in many places.

For detailed information about the Vintage 2022 city and town population estimates, access the interactive dashboard and full UMDI report below.

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