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Massachusetts Population Estimates Program

Massachusetts Population Estimates by City and Town

On May 16, 2024, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated population estimates for Massachusetts cities and towns (also called “minor civil divisions” or “MCDs”) for July 1, 2023. This new vintage of estimates is derived from the allocation of the Census Bureau’s 2023 county-level population estimates, released on March 14, 2024, to individual municipalities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2023 Sub-County Population Estimates, 21 out of Massachusetts’ 26 cities or towns with populations of 50,000 or more in 2020 increased in population from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023. Worcester led the group in terms of total population gained with an estimated 1,945 person increase over the year. Weymouth was the fastest-growing large place in terms of percentage growth, with a 2.9% population increase. In terms of annual percentage change among places with populations over 50,000 in Massachusetts, Boston ranked 19th this year with a 0.1% population increase or a gain in population of 590 people.

Many of the town-level trends observed in the V2023 population estimates relate directly to changes in county-level migration and immigration patterns in Massachusetts during and in the years 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, with Nantucket, Dukes, and Barnstable showing the greatest percentage gains in the state between 2019 and 2020. Domestic migration into the seasonal counties of Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket, and Berkshire—and even the adjacent Plymouth and Franklin Counties—remained very strong in the 2020–2021 estimates year, according to Census Bureau estimates. At the same time, the more urban and most population-dense Massachusetts counties—especially Suffolk, Middlesex, and, to a lesser extent, Norfolk—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 2022 estimates saw the pandemic-period trends start to turn around, and the V2023 Census county estimates indicate that the migration and immigration trends observed in 2020 and 2021 have continued to revert back to pre-pandemic patterns. International immigration has rebounded strongly, alleviating the recent population loss in Suffolk County and the city of Boston. While all Massachusetts regions benefit from increased international immigration to the state, Suffolk, Middlesex, Dukes, Essex, and Norfolk counties benefit the most, having the highest rates of international migrants as a percentage of their populations in 2023. In terms of domestic migration, the 2023 estimates show a 31% decrease in year-to-year domestic out-migration for the state. Finally, as the state population continues to age and with overall decreasing fertility rates, six of Massachusetts counties experienced more deaths than births in the 2022–2023 estimates year, which also contributed to population loss in five of those counties.

For detailed information about the Vintage 2023 city and town population estimates, access the interactive dashboard and full UMDI report below.

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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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