Has Burlington saved the Bay State’s bacon?
Last December, the US Census Bureau estimated that Massachusetts had gained residents in 2006, after being the only state to lose population in both of the previous years. This summer, we got some more specifics, as the Census Bureau released data for all 351 cities and towns in the state, and I was suprised to learn that it was not the southeastern part of Massachusetts that turned things around. In fact, Cape Cod, which had been growing faster than the state as a whole for several decades, lost some 1,300 residents from 2005 to 2006, and is now at its lowest population level since the beginning of the decade. This is only an estimate, of course, and it’s entirely possible that Cape Cod is still gaining people as a result of legal and illegal immigrants, students, and other groups that are often undercounted between complete censuses. But it’s still remarkable that Cape Cod, and the southeast in general, is no longer driving population growth here.
Below are four maps that show geographic patterns in population change in Massachusetts. First, we see that last year’s uptick in population was strongest in a scattered assortment of suburbs in all directions (save dead east) from Boston, but the adjoining towns of Burlington and Billerica registered the biggest jumps. Meanwhile, 160 of the state’s 351 communities still lost population, which was slightly up from the 156 that lost population from 2004 to 2005.