How Much Have We Lost?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Census Data Highlights Virginia Changes

The Weldon-Cooper Center at the University of Virginia continues to put out some of the best scholarly information regarding changing demographic changes in Virginia.

Earlier this week, they issued a paper with a discussion of Virginia's changes relative to other states in the country entitled A Decade of Change in Virginia's Population. Here are some bottom lines.

  • Virginia is the only state in the nation where natural population growth and net in-migration contributed equal shares to population growth.
The article cites some examples like Michigan where more people fled than were born leading to population decline or states like Florida where 80% of its growth was from in-state migration.

  • Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Road accounted for 80% of population growth in Virginia and Northern Virginia accounted for more than 1/2 of the state's population growth.
Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County accounted for 40% of Virginia's population growth. In Richmond, most growth came from New Kent, Caroline, Goochland, Powhatan, and Chesterfield Counties. Richmond also gained population for the first time in 40 years. Hampton Roads grew only 5.7% affected by its five cities that had significant net out-migration. Accomack County and Danville led the list of population loss losing 13% and 11% of their population.

  • A growing number of localities are experiencing population loss and 55 localities had more deaths than births.
As younger population flees, only older population remains, and birth rates stall reinforcing losses. Rural areas of Virginia are poised for even more losses.

  • Hispanic population doubled to 7.9% of Virginia and Asian population increased 70% to 5.5% of Virginia.
There are some interesting side notes to this. First, hispanic population declined in only two localities (you'd never guess) - Arlington and Buchanan Counties. Northern Virginia has 60% of Virginia's hispanics. Hispanic populations are poised for more growth due to the populations lower average age. Asian population is clustered in urban areas and unlike hispanic population in academic centers - it is absent from rural areas.
Thirty-two localities have under-18 populations that are majority-minority. Virginia is poised to become more diverse.

  • White population is down to 69% of Virginia's population - the same percentage it was 100 years ago when blacks constituted 31% of the state.
People often forget about Virginia's past history by viewing it through a more recent frame of reference, but after Reconstruction, Virginia was only 59% white.
The article reinforces that Virginia's urban and suburban areas will continue to lead the state in job growth and population growth. Virginia will continue to become more diverse even without significant net in-state migration.

Our failure to uncork economic development problems in the rural parts of Virginia have them poised poised for even more long-term population declines. This translates to a myriad of different consequences in terms of education, transportation, poverty, crime,and health care - virtually everything we do in Richmond. So long as these trends are ignored and certain groups in Richmond continue to rally against them, we will not be properly maximizing our collective future.

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