Local growth outpaces the state

Posted: January 29, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Local population numbers continue to climb.

According to demographers at the University of Virginia, the Winchester and Frederick County area’s population growth from the 2010 U.S. Census to mid-2012 outpaced the state’s.

The Winchester metropolitan area — which includes Frederick County — jumped 2.69 percent from 104,508 in the April 2010 census to 107,326 as of July 1, 2012, according to the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Virginia’s population grew from 8.0 million to nearly 8.2 million between the census and July 1, 2012. The 2.3 percent increase outpaced the nation in the past two years and ranked 13th among the growth rates of the 50 states.

The state’s largest gains were concentrated in the urban centers of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads. About 54 percent of the state’s total population growth from 2010 to 2012 occurred in Northern Virginia, the report states.

Meanwhile, southern and southwest Virginia made up the largest portion of the 26 localities that lost population.

While the growth of Northern Virginia and other urban areas and declining population numbers in more rural areas is a continuation of past trends, the 2012 estimates also show signs of population aging and renewed growth in Virginia’s independent cities.

The Winchester metro area joined the Covington, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Staunton areas in showing a faster growth than the state since 2010.

Rebecca Tippett, research associate at the Weldon Cooper Center, noted in a media release that from 2000 to 2010 Virginia’s counties grew much faster than its cities. The latest estimates show that has changed.

“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,” she said.

Despite aging populations and lower birth rates, most localities saw population increases due to the migration of new residents.

The increased growth of Virginia’s cities compared to its counties in the past two years could also be attributed to economic conditions, the report states.

“Empty nesters looking to downsize and live near amenities, as well as millennials skeptical of the housing market and more interested in living in urban environments than suburban environments, may be more interested in cities than suburbs,” Tippett said in the release.

The Cooper Center’s estimates are based on housing, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s license data.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com