The state's U.S. Census liaison is reporting "encouraging numbers" about population growth ahead of next year's Census, with the largest population increases since the 2010 Census in the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett and Lowell.

Based on estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the fastest population growth in Massachusetts has "generally been concentrated in smaller and mid-sized towns" in Middlesex, Bristol and Worcester counties.

Between 2017 and 2018, the largest population gains were in Boston, Cambridge and Framingham. Sudbury, Sharon and Stoneham showed the largest population increases by percentage during that time. The data showed the population rose in 82 percent of cities and towns.

"While we continue to see encouraging numbers throughout most of the state, particularly in communities closed to Boston, there are still several communities in the Berkshires and on the Cape showing population decreases," Secretary of State William Galvin said in a statement.

By percentage, the largest population increases since the 2010 Census have been in Boxborough, Hopkinton, Burlington, Lunenberg and Littleton.

Data: Census Data | UMass Donahue Institute Data

~ Michael P. Norton/SHNS