BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts is enjoying a modest growth spurt, but not enough to win back a seat in Congress.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers puts the state's population at 6,646,144, up by 98,515 individuals from April 2010.
That growth increase of 1.5 percent was double the percentage increase of the rest the Northeast as a whole. Massachusetts was followed by New York which had 1 percent growth and New Jersey which had a 0.8 percent increase.
Connecticut and Pennsylvania both recorded a growth increase of half a percent, and New Hampshire's population ticked up by 0.3 percent. Maine's and Vermont's populations held nearly even while Rhode Island recorded a decrease of 2,275 residents, a decline of 0.2 percent.
"We have some robust growth going on," Massachusetts state Secretary William Galvin said Wednesday. "We seem to be the one place in the Northeast that has some sustained growth."
Despite its relatively strong growth in the past two years, Massachusetts still is trailing the nation's population increase of 1.7 percent since 2010.
Galvin said that while the growth in Massachusetts' population is encouraging, it's probably not enough to win back a seat in Congress.
Seats in the U.S. House are apportioned based on population, and Massachusetts saw its number of House seats drop from 10 to nine in this year's election.
Galvin points to Washington state, where the population has grown faster than in Massachusetts. He said Washington's population was ahead of Massachusetts' when the seats in Congress were being divided up last time, and the state gained a House seat in the past election. Washington has increased its population to nearly 6.9 million in the most recent census, illustrating the difficulty Massachusetts faces in adding enough residents to reclaiming a seat.
"We're not going to get back any congressional seats back any time soon," Galvin said.
Massachusetts' growth spurt may help the state stave off the loss of yet another seat in 2020, he said.
Galvin said that growth is worth noting given that Massachusetts, and the entire Northeast, has generally seen stagnant population numbers compared to other parts of the nation in recent tallies.
Galvin said it's hard to know exactly why the state's population has ticked up in recent years, but the state's relatively strong economic outlook compared to the country as a whole may have played a role.
Massachusetts' unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.6 percent in November, after climbing by more than half a point since June.
Still, the state's unemployment rate is a full percentage point below the national rate of 7.7 percent in November.
Galvin said a better job at counting college students living in dorms in Massachusetts may also have helped contribute somewhat to the higher population number, but not enough to account for the entire increase.
Massachusetts remains the 14th most populous state in the country.
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