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Population Overall

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Population Growth Overall

Population

Northern Virginia is on the front lines of a demographic transformation shaping the United States. There has been an extraordinary amount of population growth in Northern Virginia. In 2023, the Northern Virginia population was 74% more than in 1990 when the population was 1,466,350.

Population

Estimate

       2023       

2,556,143

The COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States in March 2020 and the emergency declaration was lifted in May 2023.  The pandemic changed the country's and region's demographic migration patterns significantly due to the substantial rise in remote work. Remote work is providing people with the opportunity to move to places away from employment centers.  Most people relocate for family-reasons, housing reasons, and for more affordable, lower cost of living according to the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey.  Young adult, first time home buyers are the largest, working-age demographic group that are choosing to move to more affordable areas.  In the four years since the pandemic, the country has had a wave of out-migration from urban areas to suburban and rural areas or smaller urban areas.  The shift to remote work is one of the most impactful societal changes impacting demographic trends in the country and region, and likely will shape  future trends for a long time. 

 

From July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, the nation's most populous areas, including Northern Virginia, experienced significant out migration and population declines.  This was the first and only annual decline in Northern Virginia since the Census Bureau annual record keeping began in 1970, with a decline of an estimated 7,800 persons. 

 

Nationally, by County, and in Northern Virginia, growth patterns of 2022 and 2023 have "edged closer to pre-pandemic levels", according to the U.S. Census Bureau and NVRC Analysis.

Annual Estimates

Annual Estimates:
Population, Natural Change (Births/Deaths), Migration

Annual estimates of population and the components of change (domestic migration, international migration, births, and deaths) paint a portrait of the annual growth patterns in the towns of Northern Virginia.  Annual estimates are not based on a full census of the population.  Rather, they are estimates based on a compilation of multiple administrative data pieces such as birth records and residential building permits.  The estimates are obtained from the U.S. Census, which benchmarks estimates to the Decennial Censuses.  Decennial Census data represents the population as of April 1 of the year, whereas the annual estimates are as of July 1 of each year.

The 2020 to 2022 estimates are benchmarked to the 2020 Decennial Census.  The 2010 to 2019 estimates are benchmarked to the 2010 Decennial Census, and the U.S. Census Bureau has yet to be adjust this series to reflect the results of the 2020 Decennial Census.  Until data adjustments occur, annual growth amounts may be somewhat overstated or understated from 2010 to 2020.

Decennial Population

Decennial Census Data:
Population

The Decennial Census is based on a survey of the entire population.  It is conducted once a decade.  The 2020 Decennial Census population was released on August 12, 2021.  The Decennial Census regional, county, and city population data is shown in the interactive charts that follow. 

Key Facts:

Decennial Growth

  • In 2020, Northern Virginia's population was 2,550,337 according to the Decennial Census.  The population increased from 1,466,409 in 1990, a 74% increase in the 30 year period from 1990 to 2020.

  • Northern Virginia added approximately 320,000 people in this past decade, 2010 to 2020.  This is 96,000 or 23% less than the previous decade, signaling a significant slowdown in the pace of growth.  However, growth still continues at a high amount.

  • Virginia’s population grew by 630,369 from 2010 to 2020, of which 50.7% of that growth was in Northern Virginia. 

  • I​​n 2020, 29.5% of Virginia’s population was in Northern Virginia, compared to 27.9% in 2010.

  • Growth peaked in 2010.  Growth in Northern Virginia has slowed since 2010.  It has trended down annually since 2010, but it is still large and impactful growth that the the region is facing.

  • The localities in Northern Virginia the growth is occurring in this decade is different in some ways than in the 1990s and 2000s.

    • The preponderance of population growth of Northern Virginia continues to be located in the outer-ring suburbs of Prince William, Loudoun Counties, and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  However, the share of the region's growth that is in the outer-ring has dropped from 65.1% in the 2000 to 2010 period to 61.5% in the 2010 to 2020 period. 

    • Arlington has seen its share of the region's growth more than double from what it experienced in the 2000's.

    • Alexandria has seen its share of the region's growth become 2.2 times what it experienced in the 2000's.

    • Intensification of developmental pressures this decade in the inner-core is a response to the millennial generation preferences, demographics, urbanization, transportation and other market pressures.

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