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U.Va. Researchers Find Faster Population Growth in Virginia Cities

Population growth in Virginia outpaced the nation, with highly varied growth across localities, according to the most recent official annual population estimates for the state developed by demographers from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Virginia’s population grew by 2.3 percent, to nearly 8.2 million residents, between the 2010 census and July 1, 2012, according to the center’s estimates. During this period, the nation’s population grew by 1.7 percent.

Compared to other states, Virginia posted the 13th-highest growth rate and the sixth-largest numerical population gain. 

Within Virginia, the largest population gains were concentrated in the urban centers of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

“Nearly all of the commonwealth’s population growth in the past two years occurred in metropolitan areas, with more than half of the growth between 2010 and 2012 occurring in Northern Virginia,” said demographer Rebecca Tippett, who prepared the estimates.

“Between 2000 and 2010, Virginia’s counties grew much faster than its cities,” Tippett said. “For the past two years, the average population growth in Virginia’s independent cities has matched the county growth rate, with many independent cities among the fastest-growing localities.”

Covington, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Charlottesville and Staunton were among the independent cities growing at a rate faster than the state since 2010.

Due to population aging and lower birth rates, 64 of Virginia’s localities experienced natural decrease (more deaths than births) between 2010 and 2012. While most localities gained sufficient population through migration to compensate for losses through natural decrease, 26 localities in Virginia had a net overall loss in population between 2010 and 2012. Eleven of these experienced both natural decrease and net out-migration. The largest population losses were in counties in the Southwest and Southside regions of the state.

The Cooper Center’s population estimates are the official figures for the commonwealth of Virginia. The estimates are based on changes since 2010 in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s licenses. They are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, planning and budgeting.

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REPORTERS: Rebecca Tippett can be reached at rebecca.tippett@virginia.edu or 434-982-5861.

 

 

 

Figure 1. Percentage Population Change, 2010-2012

 

 

Figure 2. Numerical Population Change, 2010-2012


 

Table 1. The 10 Largest and Smallest Localities in 2012

Largest Localities

 

Smallest Localities

Fairfax County

1,112,325

 

Highland County

2,288

Virginia Beach City

447,489

 

Norton City

4,193

Prince William County

421,164

 

Bath County

4,773

Loudoun County

333,253

 

Craig County

5,258

Chesterfield County

322,388

 

Emporia City

5,932

Henrico County

314,881

 

Bedford City

6,172

Norfolk City

245,803

 

Covington City

6,420

Chesapeake City

228,210

 

Buena Vista City

6,714

Arlington County

220,565

 

Bland County

6,767

Richmond City

208,834

 

Surry County

6,927

 

Table 2. The 10 Highest and Lowest Growth Rates Since 2010

Highest Growth

 

Lowest Growth

Covington City

7.7%

 

Goochland County

-2.5%

Fredericksburg City

7.2%

 

Alleghany County

-1.9%

King and Queen County

6.9%

 

Surry County

-1.9%

Loudoun County

6.7%

 

Mecklenburg County

-1.7%

Arlington County

6.2%

 

Wise County

-1.6%

Norton City

5.9%

 

Highland County

-1.4%

Manassas City

5.5%

 

Mathews County

-1.1%

Alexandria City

5.3%

 

Charles City County

-1.0%

Falls Church City

5.1%

 

Dickenson County

-1.0%

Prince William County

4.8%

 

Grayson County

-1.0%

 

Table 3. The 10 Largest Population Gains and Losses Since 2010

Largest Gains

 

Largest Losses

Fairfax County

30,599

 

Wise County

-656

Loudoun County

20,942

 

Mecklenburg County

-554

Prince William County

19,162

 

Goochland County

-548

Arlington County

12,938

 

Tazewell County

-383

Virginia Beach City

9,495

 

Pittsylvania County

-381

Henrico County

7,946

 

Alleghany County

-313

Alexandria City

7,425

 

Pulaski County

-273

Chesterfield County

6,152

 

Henry County

-262

Chesapeake City

6,001

 

Rockbridge County

-217

Richmond City

4,620

 

Dickenson County

-156

 

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