County population on the rise

BOSTON – According to the latest U.S. Census data, the population of Massachusetts has risen 1.5 percent. Of the 6,646,144 people living in the Commonwealth, 463,783 live right here in Hampden County.
That growth increase of 1.5 percent was double the percentage increase of the rest the Northeast as a whole. Massachusetts was followed by New York which had 1 percent growth and New Jersey which had a 0.8 percent increase.
Connecticut and Pennsylvania both recorded a growth increase of half a percent, and New Hampshire’s population ticked up by 0.3 percent. Maine’s and Vermont’s populations held nearly even while Rhode Island recorded a decrease of 2,275 residents, a decline of 0.2 percent.
“We have some robust growth going on,” Massachusetts state Secretary William Galvin said Wednesday. “We seem to be the one place in the Northeast that has some sustained growth.”
Westfield’s population rose slightly from 41,094 in 2010 to 41,119.
Despite its relatively strong growth in the past two years, Massachusetts still is trailing the nation’s population increase of 1.7 percent since 2010.
Galvin said that while the growth in Massachusetts’ population is encouraging, it’s probably not enough to win back a seat in Congress.
Seats in the U.S. House are apportioned based on population, and Massachusetts saw its number of House seats drop from 10 to nine in this year’s election.
The population of Hampden County has risen by 300,000 people since 2010 and of those, six percent are under five years old, 23.4 percent are under 18, which is slightly higher than the state average of 21.3 percent, and 14.3 percent are age 65 and older. Most of the population in Hampden County is in line with the state overall.
Just under 52 percent of Hampden County’s population is comprised of women, which is the exact percentage statewide. The number of black residents in Hampden County is 10.5 percent, which is higher than the state average of 7.8 percent. Hampden County also has a much higher percentage of residents of Hispanic or Latino origin than the rest of the state at 21.4 percent, versus 9.9 percent statewide.
Hampden County has a much lower percentage of residents with Bachelor’s Degrees – 23.9 versus the state average of 38.7. Residents of Hampden County also make less money than heir fellow Baystaters with a median household income of $48,866 while the average median household income across Massachusetts is $65,981.
Westfield was inline with most of the state.  However the percentage of white residents was much higher than average at 92.8 percent versus the average of 80.4. Westfield also has fewer black residents (1.6 percent) and fewer Hispanic and Latino residents (7.5 percent) than the state average.
The median income in Westfield is $53,772.
Massachusetts’ growth spurt may help the state stave off the loss of yet another seat in 2020, he said.
Galvin said that growth is worth noting given that Massachusetts, and the entire Northeast, has generally seen stagnant population numbers compared to other parts of the nation in recent tallies.
Galvin said it’s hard to know exactly why the state’s population has ticked up in recent years, but the state’s relatively strong economic outlook compared to the country as a whole may have played a role.
Massachusetts’ unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.6 percent in November, after climbing by more than half a point since June.
Still, the state’s unemployment rate is a full percentage point below the national rate of 7.7 percent in November.
Galvin said a better job at counting college students living in dorms in Massachusetts may also have helped contribute somewhat to the higher population number, but not enough to account for the entire increase.
Massachusetts remains the 14th most populous state in the country.

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