Jan. 25-31, 2002
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Northern Virginia still tops state as fastest growing area in population
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Northern Virginia still tops state as fastest growing area in population

By Bob Brickhouse

Virginia may be suffering severe financial problems, but its population continues to grow in the new century at roughly the same steady pace as in the 1990s, according to new estimates from U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, the state’s highest-income locality, continues to outstrip the rest of Virginia in terms of population growth, too, maintaining an average growth rate of 7.5 percent a year in 2001, said Julia H. Martin, the center’s director of demographic research. Donna Tolson helped prepare the estimates. No other Virginia locality is growing by more than 5 percent annually.

And Northern Virginia continues to gain ground as the state’s dominant population center, according to 2001 estimates. Already accounting for 31 percent of Virginians, the Northern Virginia metro area has accelerated its annual growth rate from 2.2 percent during the 1990s to 2.4 percent between 2000 and 2001. Most of the state’s other metro areas are estimated to be growing at a slightly slower rate than they did in the 1990s, including the second-fastest growing region, the Charlottesville metro area.

In 2001, two-thirds of all Virginians lived in the Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond metro areas.

As further evidence that Virginia is an increasingly metropolitan and suburban state, some 13 localities have populations topping 100,000. All are in the Northern Virginia, Norfolk and Richmond areas.

The state’s estimated 2001 population is 7.18 million, up about 1.5 percent from the official 2000 census figure of 7.08 million.

The Cooper Center’s annual estimates are based on regression analysis of population statistics. In some localities, these results are averaged with those generated by a method based on building permits, real estate vacancy rates and persons per household. School enrollment, births, licensed drivers and state tax return information are also used as indicators.

The full report of 2001 population estimates and growth rates for all Virginia localities and regions is on the Cooper Center’s Demographics Web site at http://www.ccps.virginia.edu/Demographics/default.html.


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