Here's What the 2020 Census Data Says About New England

The region continues to have one of the oldest and whitest populations in the country

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Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week showed an overall trend of increasing diversity in the country, but New England's population remains one of the oldest and whitest in the nation.

Although that national trend of diversification can be seen playing out in the six states, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire represent three of the four whitest states in the latest data.

Maine remains the whitest state in the nation, followed by Vermont. While the majority of Connecticut residents are white, the new data shows the state is also becoming more diverse.

Meanwhile Rhode Island, like much of New England, continues to have one of the oldest populations in the country, with more than 80% of residents over the age of 18.

Massachusetts ranked sixth when measured by age, falling behind Washington D.C., which ranked first, and four other New England states — Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. That makes the region one of the oldest in the country when measured by the percentage of its population over 18.

Here's what else the data shows about New England:


Massachusetts grew older, less white and more populated during the past decade, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.

Those identifying as white alone in Massachusetts — not Hispanic or Latino — declined from 76.1% in 2010 to 67.6% in 2020.

During the same decade the percentage of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino grew from 9.6% in 2010 to 12.6% in 2020. The Black and African-American population (non-Hispanic) increased slightly from 6% in 2010 to 6.5% in 2020. The Asian population also ticked up from 5.3% to 7.2%.

Those identifying as two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) more than doubled from 1.9% in 2010 to 4.7% in 2020.

The total population for Massachusetts increased from more than 6.5 million in 2010 to just over 7 million, making it the 15th most populous state in the nation and ensuring it retains all nine of its existing seats in the U.S. House.

The first set of results from the 2020 census left Massachusetts lawmakers relieved: the state isn't losing any seats this time around.

Most of the growth in Massachusetts came in the eastern portion of the state, particularly in the Metropolitan Boston area. Suffolk County, which includes Boston, added nearly 76,000 residents in the past decade, boosting its population by 10.5%, while neighboring Middlesex County added the most new residents of any county in the state — nearly 129,000 — increasing its population by 8.6%.

Worcester County added more than 63,000 residents, increasing its population by 8%.

In contrast, two of the state’s most western counties were the only ones to see a decline in population. Berkshire Country saw its population fall by -1.7% during the past decade while Franklin County fell by -0.5%.

Nationwide, Massachusetts ranked sixth when measured by the age of the population over 18. It fell behind Washington D.C., ranked first, and four other New England states — Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island — making the region one of the oldest in the country when measured by the percentage of its population over 18. Massachusetts reported 80.6% percent of its population aged 18 or over.

In 2010, the state reported 21.7% of its population was under the age of 18, compared to 19.4% of the population in 2020.

The greater Boston area also had some of the tightest housing markets in the state. Suffolk County, which includes Boston, had a housing vacancy rate of 7.1% in 2020, while other neighboring counties had even tighter vacancy rates: Middlesex County (4.9%); Norfolk County (4.5%) and Essex County (5.5%).

On average — according to the Census Bureau — smaller counties tended to lose population and more populous counties tended to grow during the past decade. Population growth was almost entirely in metro areas.

In Massachusetts, Middlesex County remained the most populous with more than 1.6 million people, followed by Worcester County with more than 862,000, Essex County with more than 809,000 and Suffolk County with nearly 798,000.

The fastest growing city in Massachusetts is Revere, which saw its population jump by more than 20 percent to 62,000 residents, according to Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin. Boston remained the largest city with more than 675,600 residents followed by Worcester (206,500 residents), Springfield (156,000), Cambridge (118,400) and Lowell (115,500).

The shift in population in Massachusetts — with most growth occurring around Boston — means new political districts drawn in the northeastern part of the state will have to shrink in geographic size while districts in western and central Massachusetts will have to expand to help equalize the number of voters in each, said Galvin, a Democrat and the state’s top elections official.

Massachusetts voting rights advocates said Thursday that with the release of the new data, they will propose what they called a “unity” redistricting map with the goal in part of ensuring equitable representation for Black, indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, people of color, immigrant, and low-income communities.

The release of the redistricting data culled from the 2020 census is coming more than four months later than expected due to delays caused by the pandemic. The redistricting numbers states use for redrawing congressional and legislative districts show where white, Asian, Black and Hispanic communities grew over the past decade.

It also shows which areas have gotten older or younger and the number of people living in dorms, prisons and nursing homes.

The data covers geographies as small as neighborhoods and as large as states. An earlier set of data released in April provided state population counts and showed the U.S. had 331 million residents last year, a 7.4% increase from 2010.

More on the 2020 Census

The Census Bureau on Thursday issued its most detailed portrait yet of how the U.S. has changed over the past decade.

Census: Massachusetts Grew Older, Less White, More Populous

Census Data Kicks Off Effort to Reshape US House Districts

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s northernmost county is no longer alone in losing population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Thursday that show populations also shrunk in two other counties over the last decade.

Already the most sparsely populated, Coos County had been the only one of the state’s 10 counties to lose population between 2000 and 2010. The new figures show that trend accelerating, with a 5% decline from 2010 to 2020.

Small population declines also were seen in the southwest corner of the state, where Cheshire County’s population dropped by about 1% and Sullivan County’s dropped by less than 2%.

Overall, the state’s population grew by 4.6% to 1,377,529. The biggest growth came in Belknap, Rockingham and Strafford counties, which each grew by 6%. In the previous decade, Strafford, Carroll and Grafton counties were the fastest growing.

The new figures also show that New Hampshire, historically one of the whitest states, is becoming a bit more diverse, shifting from 94% white to 88%. That makes it the fourth whitest state, behind Vermont, Maine and West Virginia.

The percent of the population identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino increased by more than 60%, the sixth largest percentage change in the nation. But the population remains small at 4.3%.

The figures also show New Hampshire remaining one of the oldest states, ranking fourth behind Washington, D.C., Vermont and Maine for its percentage of residents age 18 and over. The 18+ population increased 9% to 81% of the total.

The release of the redistricting data culled from the 2020 census is coming more than four months later than expected due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. States will use the numbers for redrawing congressional and legislative districts, a process that is just getting underway in New Hampshire.

While control of the Legislature has swung back and forth, the current district designations were approved in 2012, when Republicans were in charge as they are now. That map was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch, but the Legislature overrode the veto, and the state Supreme Court later found the plan constitutional.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed bills in 2020 and 2019 that would have created an independent redistricting commission, saying it was unnecessary because gerrymandering is rare in the state and the current redistricting process was fair. The GOP-led Legislature killed similar bills this year.

Earlier Thursday, a coalition advocating for an independent, fair and transparent redistricting process held a news conference to urge lawmakers to follow its roadmap, which includes holding public meetings in every county and creating an online portal to keep the public informed.

Dave Hennessey, a member of the Fair Maps coalition and a voter in Pelham, complained that last redistricting process lumped his town of Pelham in with Hudson as one district with 11 state representatives in the 400-member House. He’d rather see Pelham get four and Hudson seven.

“This is not necessarily a partisan issue. Both our towns, Pelham and Hudson, are heavily Republican towns. However we do have different interests, we do have different needs, and we need separated representation,” he said. “We’re not trying to sway this either way, Republican or Democratic, we just want a fair shake and get the towns like Pelham, that are large enough with 14,000 people, to get its four state reps.”

The House has appointed a special committee on redistricting, with Republicans holding eight of the 15 seats. And work will get underway soon in the Senate, Senate President Chuck Morse said Thursday.

“Now that the census data has become available, we will begin to establish a fair and transparent process for redistricting, including opportunity for public input,” he said.


The 2020 census shows that Maine remains the whitest state in the nation but is becoming more diverse.

Census data released Thursday showed that the state’s population of 1,362,359 remains overwhelming white. But the numbers decreased slightly from 95.2.% of the population to 90.8% over the past decade. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire represent three of the four whitest states in the latest data.

The state’s Hispanic population grew slightly from 1.3% to 2% of the population. The Black population increased from 1.2% to 1.9%, a 64 percent jump which was only behind North Dakota and South Dakota in terms of percentage increases.

The uptick in nonwhite populations mirrors a nationwide trend showing the country as a whole becoming more diverse.

The release of the redistricting data culled from the 2020 census is coming more than four months later than expected due to delays caused by the pandemic.

The redistricting numbers states use for redrawing congressional and legislative districts show where white, Asian, Black and Hispanic communities grew over the past decade. It also shows which areas have gotten older or younger and the number of people living in dorms, prisons and nursing homes. The data covers geographies as small as neighborhoods and as large as states. An earlier set of data released in April provided state population counts and showed the U.S. had 331 million residents last year, a 7.4% increase from 2010.

Overall, Maine’s population grew more slowly over the past decade, increasing about 2.6%, or 33,998 people, from 2010. That wasn’t enough to warrant a change to the state’s congressional makeup, and Maine will continue sending two U.S. representatives to Congress.

The latest data shows populations trends similar to the 2010 census, with cities in the southern part of the state gaining residents. Rural regions in the eastern and northern part of the state saw declines.

Cumberland County, the state’s largest, saw a population increase of 7.6% followed closely by its southern neighbors of York and Androscoggin which saw increases of 7.5% and 3.2% respectively. In contrast, Aroostook County, which borders Canada, saw its population decline by 6.6%. The neighboring county of Washington County fell 5.4% while Piscataquis County saw a decline of 4.2%.

The state’s population, long among the oldest in the country, also continued that trend. It has the third highest percentage of adults over 18, behind the District of Columbia and Vermont. Maine’s population 18 and over increased 5.3% over the past decade while those under 18 fell by 8.1%.

New U.S. census numbers should bring redistricting in Maine, which could affect who wins its electoral votes for president.


Vermont remains the second whitest state in the country, but the state’s minority population is growing, data released Thursday U.S. Census Bureau showed.

The data showed the Hispanic population in Vermont grew by 68.4%, about 6,300 people, between 2010 and 2020, the third largest percentage increase in the country.

The Black population grew by just under 44%, or just under 2,760, the seventh largest percentage change in the country.

While the percentage increases are large, the actual numbers remain low.

The percentage of Vermont’s Hispanic population grew from 1.5% of the state’s population in 2010 to 2.4% in 2020. The percentage of Vermont’s Black population grew from 1% of the state’s population to 1.4%.

Despite the increase in minority population, 89.8% of Vermont’s population is white, second only to Maine.

The numbers found that Vermont has the second highest percentage in the country of its population over age 18, 81.6%, behind the District of Colombia at 83.4% and just ahead of Maine, 81.5% and New Hampshire at 81.4%.

The percent change in the population over age 18 grew 5.6% over 2010, or just under 28,000 people.

The Vermont figures were part of a nationwide release of data that offers the most detailed portrait yet of how the country has changed since 2010. In some states the figures will be used to redraw congressional districts and they will also shape how $1.5 trillion in annual federal spending is distributed.

The national figures show continued migration to the South and West at the expense of counties in the Midwest and Northeast. The share of the white population fell from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020, the lowest on record, though white people continue to be the most prevalent racial or ethnic group.

The information was originally supposed to be released by the end of March, but that deadline was pushed back because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Census data released earlier this year showed that in the last decade Vermont’s overall population grew 2.8%, to just over 643,000 people.

The data released Thursday also showed the population change in Vermont’s 14 counties.

More than a quarter of Vermont’s total population lives in Chittenden County, which includes Burlington, saw its population grow by 7.5% in the last decade, the top percentage increase of Vermont’s 14 counties.

Vermont’s least populous county, Essex, located where Vermont abuts New Hampshire and Quebec, saw its population decrease by just under 400 people, or 6.1%, the largest percentage decrease in the state.

Caledonia and Rutland counties also lost population. Caledonia County lost just under 1,000 people, a drop of 3.2%. Rutland County last just under 1,100 people, a drop of 1.7%.

While America is more diverse than ever, it's also becoming more siloed: more educated people are increasingly concentrating themselves in cities. NBCLX Political Editor Noah Pransky breaks down the early data from the 2020 Census and explains how it will impact your Congressional district and the political world.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is becoming older and more Latino as its population grows.

People who identify as either Hispanic or Latino now make up nearly 17% of the state, while 71% of the residents identify as white only, according to the latest batch of data released Thursday from the 2020 U.S. census.

And the Ocean State, like much of New England, continues to have one of the oldest populations in the country, with more than 80% of residents aged 18 or older.

The demographic shift comes as Rhode Island has, overall, grown more than 4%, from about 1.05 million residents in 2010 to nearly 1.1 million in 2020.

The growth in the Latino population is critical for the state’s economic future as its workforce ages, says Mario Bueno, executive director of Progreso Latino, a social services organization in Central Falls.

“We’re a graying population with a lot of people going into retirement, especially in the trades,” he said. “But the Latino population is younger and that’s a positive for the state.”

The Latino community’s continued growth also underscores the importance of investing in Latino youth that are falling behind by some measures, added Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, a longtime Latino activist.

“Given the low performance of Latino students and high levels of child poverty, it is clear where more investment is required,” he said. “Not because it is just, but because it is in everyone’s best interests.”

And the census findings highlight the importance of ensuring that Latinos and other communities of color are at the center of the state’s redistricting process, the decennial redrawing of the state’s political boundaries that kicks off in earnest with release of the latest census data, said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, a local good government group.

“When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, our maps are more likely to be representative,” he said in a statement.

Just a decade ago, Rhode Island’s Latino population stood at around 12% of the state. Now there are more than 180,000 Latinos or Hispanics in Rhode Island, up more than 50,000 from 2010, according to Thursday’s data.

The percentage of Rhode Islanders identifying as white only has dropped from 2010, when they comprised 81% of the state. Asians have grown modestly over the last decade and comprise about 3.5%, while people who identify as Black only have remained relatively steady at less than 6% of the population, according to the census data.

Rhode Island is among the oldest jurisdictions in the country by percent of residents 18 or older.

Only D.C., Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire had older populations in 2020. The state is also slightly older than it was a decade ago: About 19% of the population is under the age of 18, compared with more than 21% of the state in 2010, according to census data.

Rhode Island’s urban core played a key role in the state’s population growth, with some communities reversing years of declines.

Providence remained the state’s largest city by far, growing to nearly 191,000 residents, up from roughly 178,000 in 2010, according to the data.

But the capital city still couldn’t catch up to Worcester, Massachusetts, to reclaim its spot as New England’s second largest city after Boston. The central Massachusetts hub eclipsed Providence during the last decennial census and surged to more than 206,000 residents in 2020.

The Blackstone Valley cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls also saw notable population gains, and Cranston appears to have edged out neighboring Warwick for bragging rights as the state’s second largest city.

The Providence suburb, which is home to the state prison complex and other major state offices, grew to 82,934 residents while Warwick, home to Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport, rose to 82,823 residents.

Thursday’s data release comes more than four months later than expected due to pandemic-related delays. Initial census data released in April showed the U.S. had 331 million residents last year, a 7.4% increase from 2010.

States will now use the more detailed census data to redraw congressional and legislative districts, a politically fraught process that’s already generated debate in Rhode Island, as it has elsewhere.

The state’s population grew enough for it to retain its two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, sparing the overwhelmingly Democratic state a potentially awkward matchup between its two popular Democratic congressmen.

Ahead of Thursday’s data release, Democratic leaders of the state’s General Assembly announced the members of the redistricting commission charged with redrawing the state’s political lines by next January.

But a local branch of the national Black Lives Matter movement has called for adding more progressive voices on the 18-member panel.

Legislative leaders, through their spokespersons, have defended their picks, highlighting the progressive credentials for a number of lawmakers tapped for the commission.

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While the majority of Connecticut residents are white, new U.S. Census data released Thursday shows the state is becoming more diverse, with the number of Hispanic residents having grown by approximately 30% over the last decade.

The state’s Hispanic population increased by 144,206 people from 2010 to 2020, while the white population declined by 377,282. There were increases in the number of people of mixed race, Asian, Black, native American and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander decent in Connecticut as well.

Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause of Connecticut, said the numbers show the importance of getting racially diverse input into the state’s redistricting process, which will rely on the new Census data when it works to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines.

“We need processes that prioritize, I guess, hearing from diverse populations in a way that we haven’t done before, and so we need to really think about how we can make that happen,” she said. “This needs to be a priority because if people’s voices aren’t heard, then it’s not going to make the mapmaking process as inclusive as it needs to be.”

The eight members of the state’s Reapportionment Committee, all state legislators, met for the first time in April. They spoke of the challenge of reaching as many people as possible and holding public hearings in each of the state’s five congressional districts, given ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

Data released Thursday showed Connecticut’s white population dropped from 77.6% in 2010 to 66.4% in 2020, while the Hispanic or Latino population grew from 13.4% to 17.3%. The Black population grew from 10.1% to 10.8% and the Asian population grew from 3.8% to 4.8%. Those figures do not include people of mixed race.

Fairfield County is the most diverse of the state’s eight counties, with a white population of 61%. It’s followed closely by Hartford County, with a 61% white population, and New Haven County with 62.9%.

Statewide, Connecticut had a slight overall population gain of 31,847 residents, from about 3.57 million people in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2020. Much of the growth came from Fairfield County, which gained 40,490 people. There were also small increases in Hartford and New Haven counties, while the other five counties lost population over the past decade. Connecticut has had a relatively stagnant population for the past several decades.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who chaired the state’s 2020 Complete Count Committee, said in a statement that she was encouraged by the data, noting Connecticut had a 99.9% overall response rate to the Census.

“Today’s data shows the fruits of our labor,” she said. “By producing the most complete count possible, the 2020 census results will bring billions of dollars in federal resources to Connecticut for education, healthcare, transportation, and more.”

The Associated Press
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