Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 3, 2017

Immigrants stopped Central Mass. population drop

James Njoroge, the Kenyan-born co-founder of Century Homecare, in Worcester, said he sees an entrepernueurial spirit among immigrants in the area.

Worcester and Middlesex counties – and the state as a whole – have relied heavily on immigrants for population growth this past decade.

So much so, in fact, that if not for newcomers, the two counties and all of Massachusetts would have lost population.

More than 4,000 immigrants moved to Worcester County in the latest 12-month period, according to new U.S. Census data covering July 2015 to July 2016. Middlesex County added more than 12,000 new residents from outside the country over that same time period.

“I see a lot of immigrants attracted to places like Worcester, where there's a concentration of hospitals and medical offices,” said James Njoroge, a Worcester resident and Kenya native who moved to Massachusetts in 1997, and in 2012 co-founded Century Homecare, a home health services company.

A lower cost-of-living than Greater Boston helps attract immigrants, too, said Njoroge, as does being around other immigrants who share a similar background.

Over the same period, the native population in Worcester County had a net loss of 2,775 residents, as more people moved out of the county to other states than have moved in from elsewhere in the country. Middlesex County had a similar net loss of 3,000 native residents.

More people = bigger economy

That immigrant population growth has left an economic impact on Central Massachusetts.

According to a 2015 study commissioned by Worcester nonprofit Seven Hills Foundation, 37 percent of the city's business owners are foreign born. The city is home to an estimated 38,000 immigrants from 85 countries, and most came after 1990, Seven Hills found.

“It's a very close-knit community,” said Njoroge, who said half of his Century Homecare staff is first- or second-generation immigrants.

A long-term trend

The short-term trend of native population leaving the region while immigrants move in holds true for longer-term population trends, according to the census.

In the last 10 years, newcomers from other countries into Worcester County totaled nearly 22,000. In comparison, more than 11,000 native residents moved out of the county.

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 only 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 into Massachusetts (15,000).

The statewide population passed 6.8 million, up 27,539, or 0.4 percent for the year. Since 2010, the population is up by 264,150, or 4 percent.

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


Order a PDF