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The Town

Charlton is a small town situated in southwest Worcester County just east of the convergence of Interstate Route 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) and Interstate Route 84. The town is laterally crossed by the Massachusetts Turnpike and a second east-west highway, U.S. Route 20, and connected to neighbors north and south along State Routes 31 and 169. Its location and highway access play a significant role in where Charlton residents work, for over half the town’s labor force commutes to employment in Worcester, neighboring Southbridge and Sturbridge, or Auburn or Webster nearby, or the town itself. Similarly, Charlton’s own employers draw primarily from within Charlton or from Worcester, Southbridge, Sturbridge, Dudley, or Webster.

LOCAL 

NEW ENGLAND

NORTH EAST 


Population Trends

Though not a high-growth town today, Charlton experienced significant population growthduring the last half of the twentieth century. Fig. 3 tracks the town’s recent growth by decade. In addition to the immediate postwar uptick in population that occurred just abouteverywhere, Charlton attracted a considerable increase in population in response to both the construction of and subsequent improvements to I-84 between the late 1960s and mid-1980.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) estimates that by 2040, Charlton will be home to as many as 16,000 people. However, MassDOT also predicts that over the next twenty years, Charlton will witness significant job growth, and similar forecasts can be found for the towns around Charlton, too.