, 2015

Virginia population growth slows;
area localities show ups and downs

CHARLOTTESVILLE—Population growth in Virginia slowed last year as fewer people moved to the state, but the Commonwealth still outpaced the nation, according to the most recent official state population estimates from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

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Virginia’s population grew between 2012 and 2013 by less than 1%, or 74,531 people, to increase the state total population to nearly 8.3 million. While growth last year was the slowest in Virginia since before the recession, the Commonwealth still grew faster than the nation, which grew by 0.7%.

Compared to other states, Virginia posted the 14th-highest growth rate and the seventh-largest numerical population gain.

Within Virginia, the large population gains were more than ever concentrated in urban localities, particularly in Northern Virginia.

Northern Neck

Northern Neck counties experienced minimal increases, if at all, compared to the rest of the Commonwealth, from the April 1, 2010 census and July 1, 2013 estimates.

In Lancaster, the population decreased from 11,391 to 11,370, or -0.2%.

In Northumberland, the population increased from 12,330 to 12,387, or 0.5%.

In Richmond County, the population decreased from 9,254 to 9,182, or -0.8%.

In Westmoreland, the population increased from 17,454 to 17,656, or 1.2%.

The Northern Neck Planning District population grew from 50,429 to 50,595, or 0.3%.


Across the Rappahannock River, Essex experienced a decrease in population from 11,151 to 11,077, or -0.7%.

Middlesex experienced an increase in population from 10,959 to 11,089, or 1.2%.


While Fredericksburg is the fastest-growing locality since 2010, increasing by more than 15%, most urban localities in Virginia also experienced above-average growth, representing a change from the previous decade. Between 2000 and 2010, urban localities grew much more slowly than suburban localities in Virginia; in contrast, during the past four years, many urban areas are among Virginia’s fastest-growing localities, with Arlington, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Radford and Richmond among the cities growing at a rate faster than the state since 2010.

Most localities that lost population or experienced natural decreases were outside of the so-called “urban crescent,” which stretches from Hampton Roads to Richmond and up the Interstate 95 corridor to Northern Virginia. In Southwest Virginia, all seven coal-producing counties declined in population between 2012 and 2013.

The Cooper Center’s population estimates, prepared annually, 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 drivers’ license issuances. They are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, planning and budgeting.

The full report and related data files are available at coopercenter.org/demographics.

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