The population of Central Massachusetts grew at a rate of .7 percent per year in the past decade, twice as much as the state, an increase a new state report attributes to immigration.
The population of Massachusetts grew at a .3 percent annual rate during the same period, according to a report released Wednesday by the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
The report states: "Although Central Mass lost jobs over the last decade, the region still had the fastest growing population of all regional labor markets in Massachusetts. An increase in the number of immigrants was one of the key reasons for the region’s population growth. In fact, a majority of the growth in the population of Central Mass came from immigrants. The number of immigrants in the region grew at annual rate of 3.7 percent."
According to the report, the growth of immigrants in Central Massachusetts "consistently exceeded the rates in both Massachusetts and the United States over the course of the decade."
Central Massachusetts, for the purpose of the study, was defined as 61 towns and cities in Worcester County and part of Middlesex County. They include Worcester, Leominster, Fitchburg, Shrewsbury, Grafton, Westborough, Northbough and Milford.
In this region, racial and ethnic diversity has increased over the past decade. The report cites the following growth rates: Asian, 6.9 percent increase; black, non-Hispanic, 5.8 percent increase; and Hispanic, 3.9 percent.
Education-levels in Central Mass were similar to the national average, the report stated, but below the state average. "Over the past decade, the region saw progressively higher levels of educational attainment among its residents and workforce, but a High School Degree continued to be the most common level of attainment."