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Massachusetts Population Estimates Program

Massachusetts Population Estimates by County

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On March 14th, 2024, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates for July 1, 2022 through July 1, 2023 for Massachusetts and U.S. counties, which includes total population and population change by County, as well as the components of population change. In the prior year, on June 22, 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2022 State and County Characteristics Estimates for Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and the United States. These estimates break down the estimated 2022 county populations, released in March 2023, by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin. The next release of the County Characteristics Estimates is expected in June 2024.

According to the new county-level population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the greatest numerical increases in Massachusetts counties from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023 were seen in Middlesex County at 7,158 net persons gained; Worcester at 3,993; and Essex at 3,590. Bristol County was the fourth fastest grower this year with 2,097 persons added net. In terms of percentage change, the largest net gains were in Worcester County and Essex County with 0.5% and 0.4% increases, respectively, from 2022 to 2023.

The slowest growing counties in the 2022-2023 period by number were Berkshire, with an estimated 729-person net loss; Hampden, with a 467-person net loss; and Suffolk, with an estimated loss of 387 persons. The largest percentage decreases were in Dukes (-0.7%), Berkshire (-0.6%) and Franklin Counties (-0.2%). Population loss in these areas during the 2022-2023 period can be attributed to a number of factors, including a reversion to pre-pandemic trends, as seen in Berkshire and Dukes County. During the pandemic, many people moved to seasonal homes in the Berkshires or Cape and Islands, but the extent to which these moves are permanent is yet to be discovered. Domestic migration into these areas remained robust in 2021, but we now see a reversal of that trend in Dukes and Berkshire Counties in both 2022 and 2023.


County-level estimates are produced by the U.S. Census Bureau using the latest data available for the various components of change, which include births and deaths, domestic migration (within the United States) and international migration, and the group quarters population for each county. During the period of July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023, eight counties in Massachusetts had a positive net natural increase in which the number of births was greater than the number of deaths. These counties were Middlesex (+4,145), Suffolk (+3,278), Essex (+1,225), Norfolk (+1,140), Worcester (+898), Plymouth (+106), Nantucket (+71), and Dukes (+4). Counties with the largest negative net natural increase were Barnstable (-1,704), Berkshire (-797), Bristol (-529), and Hampshire (-482).

The migration figures within the components of change estimates show almost all Massachusetts counties—12 out of 14—have negative domestic migration, meaning populations have moved from these counties to other counties within the U.S. In some counties, however, the negative domestic migration is offset by international immigration. For instance, Worcester, Norfolk, Middlesex, Hampshire, Franklin, Essex, and Berkshire counties’ negative domestic migration is offset completely for a positive net migration. At the state-level, international migration reached a record high since at least 2000 with the arrival of 50,674 residents–-outweighing domestic migration loss across the state for the first time since 2018 and resulting in a positive total migration figure of 11,498.


For more information about the Vintage 2023 county-level population estimates, download the full UMDI report and prepared workbook below or visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Unit Estimates website.

Estimates for Massachusetts follow the national trend, showing a population that is growing older and more racially and ethnically diverse. Even though Massachusetts is less diverse than the U.S. average—with a minority population of just 30.4% compared to 41.1% in the U.S. —the minority population in Massachusetts has been increasing at a faster rate than the U.S. average.  From 2010 to 2022, the minority population in the state increased by 7.3 percentage points—from 23.1% to 30.4%—compared to a 5.0 percentage point increase in the U.S. overall. All Massachusetts counties have experienced increasing diversity since 2010 by varying degrees around the state. 


The Massachusetts counties with the greatest percentage of combined Hispanic and BIPOC populations in 2022 were Suffolk (55.4%), Hampden (40.3%), and Essex (33.1%). The counties with the lowest percentage were Franklin (10.6%), Barnstable (11.1%), and Berkshire (13.2%).

Massachusetts has an estimated median age of 40.1 years in 2022. As of 2022, 10 out of 14 Massachusetts counties—over two-thirds—have a median age 40 or over. Counties with the highest median age are Barnstable (55.6 years), Dukes (49.8 years), and Berkshire (48.0 years), while the counties with the youngest median ages are Suffolk (34.2 years), Hampshire (37.4 years), and Middlesex (39.1 years). At the other end of the age-spectrum, counties with the highest percentage of children under 18 years of age include Hampden (20.8%), Essex (20.6%), Plymouth (20.4%), and Worcester (20.3%). 

For more details on selected Massachusetts characteristics data and trends, please refer to the appendices to this document. You may also view the complete datasets by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau’s Estimates page


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