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March 23, 2017

Immigrants make Middlesex state's fastest growing county

Grant Welker The Avalon Marlborough apartments, whose 350 units opened in 2015 off Simanaro Drive. Marlborough and the rest of Middlesex County was the fastest growing in Massachusetts.

Middlesex County added nearly 9,000 residents in a 12-month period ending last July, an average of 24 people a day, according to new U.S. Census data.

The county, which stretches from Framingham to Cambridge to Lowell, was the state's fastest growing.

Worcester County, in comparison, lagged, with a population growth of less than 2,000, about half of the growth rate from one year prior.

Middlesex County added more than 12,000 new residents from outside the country, which made up for what was otherwise a negative trend of more residents moving out of the county from elsewhere in the United States than moved in. That trend was repeated in Worcester County and for the state as a whole.

Nearly half of the growth in Middlesex County in the past decade has also been attributed to so-called natural growth, when births outpace deaths. Natural growth in Middlesex County was nearly 41,000 in that 10-year period. For Worcester County, it was nearly 12,000.

As for immigrants, more than 4,000 newcomers moved to Worcester County in the latest 12-year period. If not for those new residents, the county's population would have dropped. An estimated 2,775 moved out of the county to elsewhere in the United States.

Even Suffolk County, which includes Boston, had more people move out than in last year, with growth carried by more than 9,000 immigrants.

Immigrants played an even larger role in the statewide population growth. An estimated nearly 41,000 newcomers moved into Massachusetts from other countries, compared to an overall growth of nearly 28,000 last year. As with Worcester County, more people (nearly 26,000) moved elsewhere in the United States, compared to those who moved in (15,000).

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