Population increases in Essex and Middlesex counties may mean that local congressmen John Tierney and Niki Tsongas could remain in their seats.
The U.S. Census Bureau released population statistics for Massachusetts on Tuesday, and the news was pretty good for the two political leaders.
Tierney, whose district includes most of the North Shore and part of the Merrimack Valley, represents much of Essex County, which saw its population increase over the last 10 years by 2.73 percent, or nearly 20,000 people. The population of the county now stands at 743,159.
That population increase is likely to be taken into account when the redistricting panel convenes in the coming months to redraw congressional district lines to reflect the loss of one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Our numbers look good," Tierney said. "We have a great situation: You can't go north and you can't go east without getting wet."
He said the fight over redistricting will become political, but that his district is in a great situation.
"We have commonality of interests, we have workforce development groups, housing groups and business groups from Lynn on up," Tierney said. "And historically, we are the longest living congressional district in the state."
Town by town, city by city, the district showed mostly growth increases.
On the North Shore, Danvers' population increased by 5 percent, Salem by 2.3 percent and Peabody by 6.5 percent. North Andover, which is also in Tierney's district, saw a 4.2 percent increase in population, going from 27,202 to 28,352.
Some of the other, larger communities in Tierney's district saw declines, including Gloucester, which went down by nearly 5 percent, and Beverly, which dropped nearly 1 percent in population.
Tsongas' district saw similar growth.
Lawrence, for example, went up by 6 percent, with the population increasing from 72,043 to 76,377 between 2000 and 2010. In fact, Lawrence had the fifth highest population increase in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Plymouth and Revere.
Lowell, another core community in Tsongas' district, increased by about 1 percent, from 105,167 to 106,519 people.
In all, Middlesex County increased by 2.57 percent, from 1,465,396 to 1,503,085.
Tsongas, who could not be reached for comment last week, said in an emailed statement that "the Fifth District has existed in much of its present form for the last 50-plus years even as portions of the district have gained or lost population.
"There is a clear rationale to the Fifth District which is connected by its urban areas, the rivers that run through it, and by the shared geography and history of the district's cities and towns. I will continue to make the case that the current configuration of the Fifth District should be maintained to the greatest extent possible."
Even Secretary of State William F. Galvin chimed in on the debate, saying in published reports that the area represented by Tsongas will be "hard to divide, because the Merrimack Valley shares common economic and cultural interests, one of the considerations for drawing districts."
Other congressional districts, particularly those in the western part of the state, lost population. Berkshire County, the farthest west district in the state, saw its population drop 2.77 percent, going from 134,953 in 2000 to 131,219 in 2010.
Congressman John Olver, D-Amherst, represents that county. Another western Massachusetts county, Franklin, also dropped, by 0.23 percent.
Tierney noted that Olver's district has grown by the smallest amount in the state, followed by Congressman William Keating, who represents Cape Cod. One of the worst faring counties in the state was Barnstable, which consists mostly of Cape Cod, which lost 2.85 percent of its population.
The biggest gainer was Dukes County, which is Martha's Vineyard. The population there increased by 10.3 percent, which sounds like a lot, but really isn't because the population only increased 1,548.
• • •
Follow Bill Kirk on Twitter under the screen name bkirktrib.