Virginia has never been one of the fast-growth states, but it has long experienced steady domestic in-migration from other states. Bolstered by a relatively strong economic performance, we have consistently grown faster than the national average. Moderate growth is beneficial in many ways — it stimulates the economy without overloading the fiscal ability of state and local government to provide infrastructure and services. (The growth in Virginia wasn’t evenly distributed, but that’s a different issue.)
But Virginia may no longer enjoy not-too-hot, not-too-cold, just-right population growth. According to Atlas Van Lines, which tracks the movement of its moving vans, Virginia shifted from an inbound state in 2011 to a “balanced state” in 2012. As summarized by Virginia Business:
During 2012, Atlas tracked 3,262 shipments out of the Old Dominion and 3,411 into the commonwealth. By comparison, the state had 3,416 outbound moves in 2011 compared to 4,295 inbound shipments.
Atlas Van Lines’ numbers are less authoritative than the Internal Revenue Services’ tracking of taxpayer address changes, but they do provide an early indicator of the official statistics.
This data, in confirmed, suggests two very important thing: (1) Virginia may be losing its economic dynamism, and (2) official population projections may be over-shooting the mark, which has tremendous implications for land use and transportation planning. One year’s result do not a long-term trend make. But the migration data is definitely worth watching.