State Population Estimates
The U.S. Census Bureau annually develops state-level population and components-of-change estimates. The latest vintage was released on December 20, 2017 for population as of July 1, 2017. According to the new release, the Massachusetts population increased by an estimated 36,098 persons from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 to a new total of 6,859,819.
The sections below examine Massachusetts population change compared to other states and regions; change since 2000; components of population change, including births, deaths, and migration in the past year and since 2000; and how these components compare to other Northeast states and U.S. regions.
Latest State Estimate Summary
On December 20, 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates and estimated components of change for the nation, states, and Puerto Rico for the years 2010-2017. For a summary and highlights of the 2017 estimates for Massachusetts, download the UMDI Summary Report.
Massachusetts ranks as the 15th most populous state in the U.S. with an estimated population of 6,859,819 as of July 1, 2017. From July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017, the state population increased by an estimated 36,098 persons or 0.53%. This annual percentage change indicates that Massachusetts’ growth rate is approximately 2.7 times that of the Northeast average of 0.20%, and ranks it as the second fastest growing state in New England percentage-wise and first in terms of largest numeric increase.
At the national level, Massachusetts ranked 17th for annual population change again this year, and ranked 24th in terms of annual percentage growth in the 2016 to 2017 period, up from 25th last year Since the last Census in April of 2010, the Massachusetts population has increased by 312,011 persons cumulatively, or 4.8%, compared to a 2.1% cumulative increase for the Northeast region and a 5.5% cumulative increase for the U.S. as a whole. Table 1 below shows both the numeric and percentage growth and rankings for the United States, U.S. regions, and the Northeast states including Massachusetts for the period April 1, 2010, July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017.
Annual and Cumulative Estimates of Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, and Northeast States and Rankings: July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 and April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017
Massachusetts’ cumulative population increase of 4.8% is somewhat behind the national 5.5% increase since 2010, though its single year percentage of 0.5% is getting closer to the U.S. average of 0.7%. Massachusetts also continues to increase in population at a much faster rate than the Northeast and Midwest regions on average, which grew by just 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively, from 2016 to 2017. The Southern and Western regions meanwhile continue to lead the U.S. in terms of percentage growth, at 1.0% each over the last year (Figure 1).
The map below (Figure 2) clearly demonstrates that Massachusetts stands apart from the rest of the Northeastern and Midwestern states in terms of overall percentage growth since 2010, and even surpasses some states in the South and West. The single-year percent change map (Figure 3) for the most recent 2016-2017 period also puts Massachusetts ahead of most other Northeast States.
Massachusetts has been growing twice as fast this decade compared to last. From 2001 to 2004, Massachusetts’ growth rates, along with the Northeast rates, were actually declining, and only turned around after 2005, due in part to a reversal of domestic out-migration. Starting in 2007, the Massachusetts annual growth rate overtook the Northeast rate, at 0.5% for Massachusetts compared to 0.3% for the Northeast for that year, and the state’s annual percentage growth has remained above the Northeast average since that time.
From Census 2000 to Census 2010, the average growth for Massachusetts was about 0.3% per year, with an average population increase of just 19,852 per year. Since the 2010 Census, Massachusetts has increased its population by an average of 43,036 persons per year, or 0.7%, per year. Cumulatively from 2000 to 2010, Massachusetts population increased by 198,516 – or 3.1% total. Since Census 2010, Massachusetts population has already increased by 312,011, or 4.8% cumulatively.
The U.S. Census Bureau produces revised population estimates each year by adding updated components of change to the Census 2010 base. These components include both the number of births and deaths, which together constitute the natural increase. They also include net domestic migration (migration to and from other states within the U.S.) and net international migration (migration to and from other countries) which sum to the total net migration. A fifth component, the group quarters population, is factored into the estimates base for the previous year, but is not broken out as a separate number in the Bureau’s published release.
According to the U.S. Census estimates, from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 Massachusetts experienced 71,168 births and 57,119 deaths, for a net natural increase of 14,049. At the same time, Massachusetts experienced a net outflow of 23,089 persons to other states in the U.S. and a net inflow of 45,298 persons from other countries, for total net migration of 22,209 persons. Figure 3 displays the extent to which a higher number of births offsets the number of deaths and how positive international migration offsets negative net domestic migration to sum to positive population change in Massachusetts during this period.
Massachusetts has long experienced, to varying degrees, component patterns similar to those seen above. Figure 4 below shows the trends in these components from 2000 through 2017.
A greater number of births over deaths and positive international migration offsetting negative domestic migration have all contributed to an overall population increase this decade and last. Domestic out-migration from Massachusetts peaked in the middle of the last decade with an estimated net outflow of 55,077 persons leaving Massachusetts for other parts of the United States in 2005. This outflow was reduced significantly in 2007 (by 37%) and again in 2008 (by 63%), and then finally reversed to a positive in-flow in 2009, with an estimated 6,843 net persons moving into Massachusetts from other U.S. states.
In the years since 2010, domestic migration reverted to a negative value again, but the outflow has been moderate compared to the peak outflow over the last decade. Births and deaths throughout the 2000-2017 period have been much less variable from year to year than migration, with births showing a slight overall decline through the years and deaths continuing at about the same level over the course of the time series.
An examination of the components-of-change data begins to answer the question of why some states or regions are racing ahead in growth while others lag behind. Massachusetts, for instance, is growing about 10 times as fast as the Northeast region on average, and faster than any other New England state. The estimated components data suggest that, while Massachusetts shows a reasonable rate of natural increase compared to other Northeastern states, its total positive migration—specifically the large number of international in-migrants offsetting a relatively small number of domestic out-migrants—explains why the state leads the region in overall percent growth since 2010, as shown in Table 2 below.
Table 2. Estimated Components of Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, and Northeast States July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017
|Geographic Area||Vital Events||Net Migration|
Another way to compare this data over different geographies is to first convert it to a rate so that larger and smaller geographies can be evaluated together. Table 3 below shows the rate, per 1,000 persons, of each change component for the United States, U.S. Regions, and the Northeast States, including Massachusetts.
Table 3. Estimated Annual Rates of the Components of Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, and Northeast States July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017
|Geographic Area||Vital Events||Net Migration|
These estimated component rates indicate that Massachusetts births are occurring at a lower rate (10.4 per 1,000 average population) than in the United States as a whole (12.2) and each U.S. region on average. Deaths in Massachusetts are also occurring at a lower rate (8.3) than other regions of the U.S. except the West (7.3), but are almost on par with the U.S. average of 8.5. Taken together, these vital events lead to a natural increase rate (2.1) that is below that of the U.S. as a whole (3.7) and all of its regions, though very close to the Northeast average of 2.3. Note that all other states in the Northeast except for New Jersey and New York show even smaller rates of natural increase.
Within the migration component, we see that the Northeast and Midwest regions experience net domestic out-migration (-5.6 and -2.3, respectively) while the Southern and Western regions have positive domestic migration (2.9 and 1.5). The domestic migration rate of -3.4 in Massachusetts is less than the Northeast regional average of -5.6, but still indicates net domestic outmigration to Southern and Western states. On the other hand, the international migration rate of 6.6 for Massachusetts is almost twice that of the U.S. as a whole (3.4) and exceeds all U.S. regional averages. As a result, Massachusetts total migration, including domestic and international, nets to a positive rate of 3.2 in-migrants per 1,000 population - higher than both the Northeast and Midwest regional averages.
Figure 5 demonstrates the magnitude of each of the components of population change, graphing component rates by U.S. region. Births represent the component with the greatest influence on population change, and are more heavily weighted to the West and South. Deaths are the second most influential component and are most prominent in the Midwest and Northeast. International migration is heavily weighted to the Northeast, while domestic migration adds to the West and especially to the South, with losses in the Midwest and Northeast.
Additional Information and estimates data can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.
Resources and Downloads
Table 1. Annual and Cumulative Estimates of Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, and Northeast States and Rankings: July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 and April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017