BOSTON (AP) — Boston-area residents who feel there are more cars on the roads and a little less elbow room on the subway may be right.

The U.S. Census Bureau in estimates released this week said Boston and four of its immediate suburbs added the most new residents from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014.

Boston gained nearly 6,000 new residents, with Cambridge (1,962), Everett (1,121), Watertown (997) and Chelsea (980) closing out the top five.

Watertown's 3 percent population growth was the largest in the state. Everett is up 2.6 percent.

The greater Boston population has been growing in the past five years, said Susan Strate, senior program manager for the population estimates program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, which works closely with the Census Bureau in compiling the numbers.

The growth is driven by an influx of young people drawn by immigrants and the area's colleges. The area also has a steady birth rate and declining death rates.

"We've seen the rise of the millennial generation, now hitting their college years and early and late 20s swelling the area with young people," she said.

More people moving in is a sign of a strong economy, said Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

"Population growth is the sign of the attractiveness of a region," he said. "But on the other hand, if population growth is too rapid, then communities have challenges in maintaining the quality of services."

Watertown's growth has been driven in large part by the conversion of the Pleasant Street corridor from a largely commercial and industrial area to residential, Town Clerk John Flynn said.

"People are discovering that Watertown is a great community," he said. "We've got great restaurants, great recreational opportunities, we're close to Boston. We're not a pass-through, we're a destination."

At the other end of the scale, many communities in western Massachusetts continued to see declining populations, as did — surprisingly — many towns on Cape Cod, which for decades has been booming. Cape Cod has low birth rates and higher death rates, Strate said.

Declining populations are a warning to politicians, Beckwith said.

"It tells policymakers that the entire state is not sharing on the economic recovery," he said.

The towns with the steepest population declines are in Franklin and Berkshire counties, including Rowe, Florida and Hinsdale. But in those towns with a population of just a few hundred, four or five fewer people in town can mean a 1 percent drop in population.

The state's least populated town remains Gosnold, the island chain in Buzzards Bay, with 77 residents. The smallest town on the mainland is Monroe in Franklin County, with 120 residents.