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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2010 census shows little change in Nashua’s population

Nashua’s population hasn’t changed much in the past decade – a minimal decrease, in fact, compared to modest statewide growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday.

The 2010 census counted 86,494 city residents in 2010, down ever so slightly from 86,605 the last time a national census was conducted in 2000.

Other areas in Greater Nashua have seen a considerable boost.

Milford’s population grew 11.7 percent to 15,116, Hudson grew 6.7 percent to 24,467; and Merrimack’s population grew 1.5 percent to 25,494.

Of the 20 largest communities in the state, Windham saw the largest population growth over the decade at 26.9 percent. Bedford was a distant second with a growth rate of 16 percent, and Durham was third with 15.6 percent.

The state’s total population grew 6.5 percent over the decade – more than double the 3.1 percent rate of growth in Massachusetts. New Hampshire had 1.32 million residents in 2010.

Nashua’s population represents a decline of about one-tenth of a percent.

Tom Galligani, the city’s economic development director, said the data isn’t a huge surprise.

“The city is largely built out, so a lot of the explosive growth of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s isn’t happening,” he said. “You don’t see the kind of large-scale residential developments you once saw in the city.”

Nashua remained the second-largest city in the state. Manchester was No. 1 with a population of 109,565. Third- through fifth-largest communities were Concord (42,695), Derry (33,109) and Dover (29,987).

The U.S. Census Bureau began rolling out 2010 data on a state-by-state basis in February.

The last of the data, which includes figures for Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, is being released this week.

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau also released New Hampshire population counts by race and ethnicity, as well as the number of housing units in the state and their occupancy rates, but state officials are still analyzing the thousands of data points.

Galligani said census data is extremely important to the city because the amount of federal funding that comes here is based on population and other demographics.

The census also provides the kind of “micro-data” that can’t be found elsewhere, including figures detailing the population of each of the various neighborhoods in the city that are of particular interest to city officials, Galligani said.

“A lot of us have been waiting anxiously for the 2010 census because we have been basing everything on old 2000 data,” he said.

Of the state’s 10 counties, Hillsborough remained the largest with a population of more than 400,000, an increase of 5.2 percent from 2000.

Rockingham was second with slightly less than 300,000, an increase of 6.4 percent.

Strafford County grew the fastest at 9.7 percent.

The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning is analyzing the 2010 census data and expects to release additional information this week.

Ashley Smith can be reached at 594-6446 or asmith@nashuatelegraph.com.