Martha’s Vineyard population grew in last decade, Census shows


Dukes County, which includes the six towns on Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold, grew by more than 10 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to Census data released Tuesday, gaining nearly 1,548 residents. The Island’s population increased from 14,987 to 16,535.

Of the six Island towns, only Aquinnah registered a drop in population, a 9.59 percent decrease from 344 to 311.

Oak Bluffs showed the largest increase. The port town grew by about 22 percent from 3,713 residents to 4,527, according to data provided by the office of the Secretary of State.

Chilmark grew by 2.73 percent, from 843 residents to 866; Edgartown’s numbers rose by 7.62 percent, from 3,779 to 4,067; Tisbury saw a 5.17 percent increase, from 3,755 to 3,949 residents; and West Tisbury went from 2,467 residents to 2,740, an 11.07 percent hike.

Tiny Gosnold on the Elizabeth’s Island saw a drop in population, from 86 to 75 residents, a 12.79 percent decline.

Worcester County was the fastest growing county in Massachusetts over the last decade, making it likely that some political power could tilt toward the state’s central region as lawmakers proceed with redistricting, according to the State House News Service.

Population gains of more than 30,000 in Middlesex and Suffolk Counties could draw more legislative influence to those regions as well, while gains of more than 20,000 in Norfolk and Plymouth County also stand to recalibrate the legislative maps. Meanwhile, population declines in Barnstable County were offset somewhat by growth on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Lawmakers, armed with fresh sets of data showing population gains in Boston, Worcester, Plymouth, Revere and Lawrence, and decreases in Fall River, Dennis, Somerville, Lincoln and Gloucester, will now set about the task of redrawing the state’s political boundaries to account for shifting population centers.

After cities and towns redraw their precinct boundaries – a task due to be completed by June 15 – lawmakers will divide the precincts into nine Congressional districts of about 727,514 residents, 40 state senate districts of about 163,691 residents and 160 state house districts of about 40,923 residents.

The state’s population, overall, grew to 6,547,629 in the past decade, according to U.S. Census results, a 3.1 percent gain. But some communities saw gains that far outpaced the statewide average.

Much of the focus on the redistricting process will be trained on how lawmakers absorb the loss of a U.S. House seat. Because Massachusetts’s population growth failed to keep pace with the rest of the nation, the Bay State will see its Congressional representation shrink to nine from its current 10-member delegation.