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As Northern Virginia Grows, So Does The Commonwealth

3:53 AM, Feb 4, 2011   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- The population contrasts between Northern Virginia and the rest of the state widened dramatically in the past decade as the state's northern counties outside Washington exploded in size and diversity, 2010 Census data show.

More than half the growth came from Northern Virginia.

Fairfax County (pop. 1.08 million) and Prince William County (pop. 402,000), suburbs of the nation's capital, remained the state's two largest counties. Their populations grew 11.5% and 43.2%, respectively, from 2000 to 2010. Loudoun County, a more distant suburb that was the fastest-growing Virginia county, grew 84.1% to 312,311.

CRUNCH THE NUMBERS: An interactive look at Virginia's census data

Growth in those three counties accounted for 40% of Virginia's total growth, says Qian Cai, director of demographics and workforce at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. The state's population grew 13% to 8 million.

"The D.C. suburbs are really the engines for Virginia's growth - both the inner suburbs and the outer suburbs," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution.

The state's Hispanic population almost doubled to 631,825, a 91.7% increase. The number of people who identified themselves as being of two or more races jumped 63.1% to 233,400.

"The new minorities in Virginia are gravitating to the northern part of the state," Frey says. "It's a distinction between the new South and the old South, which is still predominantly white and black."

Virginia's under-18 population increased by nearly 7%, but the number of white and black children dropped. That, Frey says, "emphasizes the impact new and immigrant minorities are exerting on the state's younger population."

Census data are used to redraw federal, state and local legislative districts.

Virginia's five most populous incorporated places: Virginia Beach (437,994), Norfolk (242,803), Chesapeake (222,209), the state capital of Richmond (204,214) and Newport News (180,719). "It's clear that because of the nature of population change, there will be more swing districts than ever before," Frey says.

Seventy percent of Virginia's population lives in three areas: a third in Northern Virginia, 16% in the Richmond area and 21% in the Hampton Roads area, which includes Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

Most places experienced an increase, but 30 localities lost people. "Most of these are rural communities," Cai says.

Accomack and Buchanan counties and the cities of Danville and Martinsville each lost more than 10% of their populations.

Census data are used to redraw federal, state and local legislative districts.

Virginia's five most populous incorporated places: Virginia Beach (437,994), Norfolk (242,803), Chesapeake (222,209), the state capital of Richmond (204,214) and Newport News (180,719). "It's clear that because of the nature of population change, there will be more swing districts than ever before," Frey says.

Seventy percent of Virginia's population lives in three areas: a third in Northern Virginia, 16% in the Richmond area and 21% in the Hampton Roads area that includes Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

Most places experienced an increase but 30 localities lost people. "Most of these are rural communities," Cai says.

Accomack and Buchanan Counties and the cities of Danville and Martinsville each lost more than 10% of their populations.

Written by Haya el Nasser
USA TODAY & usatoday.com

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