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Massachusetts Population Estimates Program

Massachusetts Population Estimates by County

Random people walking on city sidewalk.Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau develops county-level population estimates based on the demographic components of change since the last Census count, including births, deaths, domestic and international migration, and the group quarters population for each county. Their latest county estimates were released March 26, 2020 for population as of July 1, 2019.

The sections below include information on population change over the past year and cumulatively since the 2010 Census as well as the estimated components of change for the last year and since 2010 for all Massachusetts counties. 

For more information on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2019 Population Estimates Release and to see national county data, click here.

For more information on state and sub-county level estimates for Massachusetts, please link to our state population and city/town population pages.

For Massachusetts county-level estimates by age, race, and ethnicity, see the UMDI summary reports and related appendices in the Resources and Downloads section at the bottom of this page.

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2019 Census Bureau County Characteristics Estimates for Massachusetts

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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, 2018 to July 1, 2019 were seen in Norfolk County at 3,545 net persons gained; Middlesex at 3,229; and Plymouth at 2,780. Worcester County was the fourth fastest grower again this year with 1,568 persons added net. In terms of percentage change, the largest net gains were in Nantucket at 1.8% followed by Plymouth and Norfolk – both rounding to 0.5%, and then Middlesex, Bristol, and Worcester – each rounding to a 0.2% increase from 2018 to 2019. Note again that in the case of Nantucket, its small overall size leads to large changes percentage-wise.

Nantucket and Plymouth counties increased their populations through a combination of more births than deaths, and positive gains in both domestic migration and immigration. Norfolk County also experienced more births than deaths in the 2018-2019 year and, although its net domestic migration was in the negative, net immigration to the county offset this loss.

The slowest growing counties in the 2018-2019 period were Berkshire, with population change of -0.8%, or an estimated 957-person net loss; Franklin, with a 431-person net loss (-0.6% change); and Hampden, with an estimated loss of 2,016 persons, or -0.4%.  Berkshire and Franklin counties, both with older age profiles than the state average, experienced a greater number of deaths over births in 2018-2019 year, while Hampden county lost population due to net domestic out-migration.

Map 1. Estimated Population by Massachusetts County, July 1, 2019

Figure description.

Estimated Population by Massachusetts County, July 1, 2018

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. March 26, 2020

Map 2. Massachusetts 2019 County Population Estimates: Percent Change July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019

Figure description.

Massachusetts 2018 County Population Estimates: Percent Change July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. March 26, 2020

Table 1 below shows county population estimates, change, and rankings for July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. Data for all counties are available in the downloads section of this page below.

Table 1. Annual Estimates of Resident Population Change and Rankings for Massachusetts Counties July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Geographic Area July 1 Population Estimate Change 2018 to 2019 Rank Change 2018 to 2019
2018 2019 Number Percent Number Percent
Massachusetts 6,882,635 6,892,503 9,868 0.1% (X) (X)
Barnstable 213,471 212,990 (481) -0.2% 12 11
Berkshire 125,901 124,944 (957) -0.8% 13 14
Bristol 564,092 565,217 1,125 0.2% 5 5
Dukes 17,329 17,332 3 0.0% 9 9
Essex 788,183 789,034 851 0.1% 6 7
Franklin 70,611 70,180 (431) -0.6% 11 13
Hampden 468,388 466,372 (2,016) -0.4% 14 12
Hampshire 161,139 160,830 (309) -0.2% 10 10
Middlesex 1,608,470 1,611,699 3,229 0.2% 2 4
Nantucket 11,198 11,399 201 1.8% 8 1
Norfolk 703,230 706,775 3,545 0.5% 1 3
Plymouth 518,422 521,202 2,780 0.5% 3 2
Suffolk 803,147 803,907 760 0.1% 7 8
Worcester 829,054 830,622 1,568 0.2% 4 6

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (CO-EST2019-ANNCHG-25), U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, March 26, 2020.

While “single-year change” refers to estimated growth or decline between July 1 of one estimates year to July 1 of the next, “cumulative change” measures the total net change since the last Census count date of April 1, 2010.

Map 3. Massachusetts 2019 County Population Estimates: Cumulative Change, Census 2010 to July 1, 2019

Figure description.

Massachusetts 2018 County Population Estimates: Cumulative Change, Census 2010 to July 1, 2018

Citation: Donahue Institute. Source data: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. March 26, 2020

Table 2, below, shows county population estimates, cumulative change, and rankings from the April 1, 2010 base to the July 1, 2019 estimate, while the map above (Map 3) displays the cumulative percentage change for each county from Census 2010 to the July 1, 2019 estimate. According to these estimates, Nantucket County has been growing the fastest, in terms of percentage growth, since the last Census at 12.1%, followed by Suffolk at 11.3% and Middlesex at 7.2%. By number of people, Middlesex County leads the state, growing by 108,566 since 2010, followed by Suffolk at 81,724 and Essex at 45,952. Note again that in the case of Nantucket, its small overall size leads to large changes percentage-wise.

Table 2. Cumulative Estimates of Resident Population Change and Rankings for Massachusetts Counties April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Geographic Area Population Estimates Change 2010 to 2019 Rank Change
April 1, 2010 Estimates Base July 1, 2019 Number Percent By Number By Percent
Massachusetts 6,547,785 6,892,503 344,718 5.3% (X) (X)
Barnstable 215,880 212,990 (2,890) -1.3% 13 12
Berkshire 131,274 124,944 (6,330) -4.8% 14 14
Bristol 548,242 565,217 16,975 3.1% 7 9
Dukes 16,535 17,332 797 4.8% 11 7
Essex 743,082 789,034 45,952 6.2% 3 4
Franklin 71,381 70,180 (1,201) -1.7% 12 13
Hampden 463,615 466,372 2,757 0.6% 9 11
Hampshire 158,063 160,830 2,767 1.8% 8 10
Middlesex 1,503,133 1,611,699 108,566 7.2% 1 3
Nantucket 10,172 11,399 1,227 12.1% 10 1
Norfolk 670,910 706,775 35,865 5.3% 4 5
Plymouth 494,932 521,202 26,270 5.3% 6 6
Suffolk 722,183 803,907 81,724 11.3% 2 2
Worcester 798,383 830,622 32,239 4.0% 5 8

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (CO-EST2019-CUMCHG-25), U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, March 26, 2020.

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. The following section describes changes in the Massachusetts county-level population estimates due to births, deaths, and migration.

Natural Increase
Natural increase is the net change in population after births and deaths are added together. The following chart (Figure 1) shows the estimated number of births, deaths, and the resulting net natural increase in each county for the period of July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. Note that in counties with a greater number of births compared to deaths, such as Middlesex and Suffolk, we see a positive net natural increase and stronger population growth. In counties where the number of deaths outweighs the number of births, such as Barnstable and Berkshire, we see negative values for net natural increase and either very minimal population growth or decline.

Figure 1. Estimated Births, Deaths, and Natural Increase by Massachusetts County, 2019

Figure description.

Estimated Births, Deaths, and Natural Increase by Massachusetts County, 2018

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source: Estimates of the Components of Resident Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (CO-EST2019-ALLDATA) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, March 26, 2020.

Migration
In the estimates process, net international migration measures in- and out-migration between a county and places outside the U.S. These numbers represent estimates produced by the U.S. Census Bureau’s analysis of American Community Survey data on the foreign-born population and other data sources. Domestic migration, sometimes called internal migration, measures movement from one county to another within the U.S. To estimate this component, the U.S. Census Bureau uses a combination of IRS data on tax filers and Medicare enrollment data. The sum of these two types of migration, international and domestic, equals the total net migration.

The following chart (Figure 2) shows the international, domestic, and total net migration estimates for each Massachusetts county for the period of July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. Note that most Massachusetts counties—10 out of 14—show negative domestic migration, meaning populations have moved from these counties to other counties within the U.S. In several counties, however, the negative domestic migration is somewhat offset by international immigration. Norfolk County’s negative domestic migration is offset completely for a positive net migration, while Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex counties have significant international immigration, but not enough to entirely offset the negative domestic immigration. Plymouth County has both a positive domestic and international migration, as well as a positive natural increase. As a result, it is one of the faster growing counties over the past year. Norfolk County gained the most population in 2019, which can be attributed to its minimal domestic outmigration and large positive international migration and positive natural increase. Middlesex has a significant international migration component partially off-setting domestic outmigration in combination with a relatively large number of births over deaths, and gained the second most population.

Figure 2. Estimated Net Domestic, Net International, and Total Net Migration by Massachusetts County, 2019

Figure description.

Estimated Net Domestic, Net International, and Total Net Migration by Massachusetts County, 2018

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source: Estimates of the Components of Resident Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (CO-EST2019-ALLDATA) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, March 26, 2020.

Detailed Components-of-Change Estimates and Rates
As described above, component data on births, deaths, domestic migration, and international migration combine together (along with group quarters updates and a “residual” component, not shown) to factor into population change for each county. The following tables outline the numerical change in each of these components for each county. Table 3 shows single-year change from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019, while Table 4 displays this change as average rates per 1,000 persons.

Table 3. Annual Estimates of the Components of Population Change: July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Massachusetts County Total Population Change [1] Vital Events Net Migration
Natural Increase Births Deaths Total International [2] Domestic
Barnstable (481) (1,393) 1,524 2,917 933 317 616
Berkshire (957) (467) 993 1,460 (487) 175 (662)
Bristol 1,125 314 5,701 5,387 840 810 30
Dukes 3 25 171 146 (20) (1) (19)
Essex 851 1,659 8,605 6,946 (811) 3,236 (4,047)
Franklin (431) (177) 526 703 (253) 102 (355)
Hampden (2,016) 436 4,972 4,536 (2,453) 367 (2,820)
Hampshire (309) (330) 976 1,306 21 490 (469)
Middlesex 3,229 4,844 16,755 11,911 (1,632) 8,965 (10,597)
Nantucket 201 84 141 57 117 60 57
Norfolk 3,545 1,265 7,148 5,883 2,309 2,645 (336)
Plymouth 2,780 416 5,173 4,757 2,405 1,300 1,105
Suffolk 760 4,009 9,219 5,210 (3,229) 7,805 (11,034)
Worcester 1,568 1,170 8,515 7,345 412 2,155 (1,743)

[1] Total population change includes a residual. This residual represents the change in population that cannot be attributed to any specific demographic component. See Population Estimates Terms and Definitions at http://www.census.gov/popest/about/terms.html. [2] Net international migration (except for Puerto Rico) includes the international migration of both native and foreign-born populations. For population estimates methodology statements, see http://www.census.gov/popest/methodology/index.html.

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: U.S. Census Bureau CO-EST2019_ALLDATA. Release date: March, 2020.

Table 4. Estimated Annual Rates* of the Components of Population Change for Single Year July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Massachusetts County Total Population Change [1] Vital Events Net Migration
Natural Increase Births Deaths Total International [2] Domestic
Barnstable (2.2) (6.5) 7.1 13.7 4.4 1.5 2.9
Berkshire (7.6) (3.7) 7.9 11.6 (3.9) 1.4 (5.3)
Bristol 2.0 0.6 10.1 9.5 1.5 1.4 0.1
Dukes 0.3 1.4 9.9 8.4 (1.2) (0.1) (1.1)
Essex 1.1 2.1 10.9 8.8 (1.0) 4.1 (5.1)
Franklin (6.1) (2.5) 7.5 10.0 (3.6) 1.4 (5.0)
Hampden (4.3) 0.9 10.6 9.7 (5.2) 0.8 (6.0)
Hampshire (1.9) (2.0) 6.1 8.1 0.1 3.0 (2.9)
Middlesex 2.0 3.0 10.4 7.4 (1.0) 5.6 (6.6)
Nantucket 17.8 7.4 12.5 5.0 10.4 5.3 5.0
Norfolk 5.1 1.8 10.1 8.3 3.3 3.8 (0.5)
Plymouth 5.4 0.8 10.0 9.2 4.6 2.5 2.1
Suffolk 1.0 5.0 11.5 6.5 (4.0) 9.7 (13.7)
Worcester 1.9 1.4 10.3 8.9 0.5 2.6 (2.1)

* Rates per 1,000 average population.
Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: U.S. Census Bureau CO-EST2019_ALLDATA. Release date: March 2020.

Tables in this section show the cumulative totals for components of change, by county, for the period since 2010. Table 5 shows cumulative components from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019, while Table 6 displays the average rates per 1,000 persons from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.

Table 5. Cumulative Estimates of the Components of Population Change April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Massachusetts County Total Population Change [1] Vital Events Net Migration
Natural Increase Births Deaths Total International [2] Domestic
Barnstable (2,890) (12,324) 14,442 26,766 9,657 3,193 6,464
Berkshire (6,330) (3,812) 9,885 13,697 (2,447) 2,422 (4,869)
Bristol 16,975 4,119 52,700 48,581 13,389 12,102 1,287
Dukes 797 184 1,510 1,326 615 2 613
Essex 45,952 17,574 78,550 60,976 28,976 40,610 (11,634)
Franklin (1,201) (907) 5,507 6,414 (247) 1,399 (1,646)
Hampden 2,757 7,070 48,103 41,033 (4,251) 22,690 (26,941)
Hampshire 2,767 (1,715) 9,775 11,490 4,413 6,245 (1,832)
Middlesex 108,566 56,112 160,240 104,128 53,598 106,529 (52,931)
Nantucket 1,227 747 1,341 594 468 659 (191)
Norfolk 35,865 13,895 66,827 52,932 22,506 30,236 (7,730)
Plymouth 26,270 6,404 47,626 41,222 20,362 13,292 7,070
Suffolk 81,724 43,308 86,974 43,666 38,688 88,969 (50,281)
Worcester 32,239 15,419 79,890 64,471 17,265 33,422 (16,157)

[1] Total population change includes a residual. This residual represents the change in population that cannot be attributed to any specific demographic component. See Population Estimates Terms and Definitions at http://www.census.gov/popest/about/terms.html. [2] Net international migration (except for Puerto Rico) includes the international migration of both native and foreign-born populations. For population estimates methodology statements, see http://www.census.gov/popest/methodology/index.html.

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: U.S. Census Bureau CO-EST2019-COMP. Release date: March 26, 2020.

Table 6. Average Estimated Rates of the Components of Population Change for July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019

Table description.

Massachusetts County Total Population Change [1] Vital Events Net Migration
Natural Increase Births Deaths Total International [2] Domestic
Barnstable (1.4) (6.3) 7.3 13.5 4.9 1.6 3.3
Berkshire (5.5) (3.3) 8.3 11.6 (2.2) 2.1 (4.2)
Bristol 3.3 0.7 10.2 9.5 2.6 2.4 0.2
Dukes 5.0 1.0 9.5 8.5 3.9 (0.0) 3.9
Essex 6.4 2.4 11.0 8.6 4.0 5.7 (1.7)
Franklin (1.8) (1.4) 8.4 9.8 (0.4) 2.1 (2.5)
Hampden 0.5 1.6 11.1 9.5 (1.1) 5.3 (6.4)
Hampshire 1.1 (1.2) 6.5 7.8 2.3 4.2 (1.9)
Middlesex 7.5 3.8 11.0 7.2 3.7 7.3 (3.7)
Nantucket 12.6 7.3 13.4 6.0 5.3 6.6 (1.3)
Norfolk 5.5 2.1 10.4 8.3 3.4 4.7 (1.4)
Plymouth 5.6 1.3 10.1 8.8 4.3 2.8 1.5
Suffolk 11.4 6.1 12.2 6.1 5.4 12.5 (7.1)
Worcester 4.2 2.0 10.6 8.6 2.2 4.4 (2.3)

*Rates per 1,000 average population.

(X) Not applicable. [1] Total population change includes a residual. This residual represents the change in population that cannot be attributed to any specific demographic component. See Population Estimates Terms and Definitions at http://www.census.gov/popest/about/terms.html. [2] Net international migration (except for Puerto Rico) includes the international migration of both native and foreign-born populations. For population estimates methodology statements, see http://www.census.gov/popest/methodology/index.html.

Citation: UMass Donahue Institute. Source data: U.S. Census Bureau CO-EST2019_ALLDATA. Release date: March 26, 2020.

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