Category Archives: Demographics

Planning for Telecommuting’s Effects on Virginia

By James C. Sherlock

I think that we don’t yet realize the full impact of the revolution being wrought by the telecommuting that accelerated during COVID.

Virginia Railway Express Route Map

I am sure I don’t.  But Virginians, and our state and local governments, must try to figure it out.

We are moving towards a world in which white collar workers will be increasingly exempt from commutes.

We have already seen during COVID the leading edge of the migration of workers and their families away from many of America’s cities, especially those with increasing crime, closed businesses and otherwise lowered quality of life.

Look at New York City.  I visited it a couple of months ago.  Many places I used to enjoy have become an urban wasteland.  D.C. is not far behind.

Virginia urban areas and some of our suburbs have experienced COVID-related business failures and are threatened with more that result from the lifestyle changes that COVID brought.

The attractions in these places are not directly related to employment, but rather to population density. Restaurants, night life and the arts were exposed by COVID as vulnerable.  Some people got out of the habit of centering their social lives on them.

The costs of cities and suburbs, especially housing, are less and less affordable.  Prices have continued to increase in the face of fast-rising mortgage rates (Note 1).  This cannot continue, so it will not.

Other Virginia locations that offer attractive lifestyles, lower costs of living and the communications infrastructure to support telecommuting with bandwidth and speed at scale can expect to see in-migration and its economic benefits if they both prepare for and solicit them.

The knock-on effects may prove far-reaching.  I will offer a few of them for consideration.  Virginia state and local governments will either plan to accommodate them or be run over by effects which, planned for or not, they cannot control.

Continue reading

From Fewer Births to Fewer School Kids

Source: Virginia Department of Health, via StatChat.

The number of births in Virginia has been declining for years, not just in rural counties with shrinking populations, but across the state. Indeed, since 2016 the fall-off in births has been sharpest in Northern Virginia, according to data published StatChat, the University of Virginia’s demographic research group blog. Birth rates are declining in all developed countries. In Northern Virginia, suggests analyst Hamilton Lombard, the drop is aggravated by young adults and families leaving the region.

Falling birth rates have been reflected, after a few years’ delay, in falling Kindergarten enrollments in public schools. In the reverse image of the pig-in-the-python — a mouse in the python? — the birth dearth will lead to smaller enrollments at every grade level as the smaller age cohorts pass through the system. Assuming the COVID-induced exodus of families to homeschooling is not reversed, enrollment projections look like this: Continue reading

How’d Virginia Do in “The Great Pandemic Migration?”

Glenn Youngkin was right. Yes, Virginia, we have a problem.

by Chris Saxman

Most mornings start with brewing a large pot of coffee, letting the dogs out into the fenced in backyard, and waiting for the papers to be delivered. Usually I can skim through the local old soldier, the Richmond Times Dispatch, before the coffee finishes brewing. But that first magical sip of morning hits with the opening the Wall Street Journal.

Ahh….the splendor of predawn America.

I read newspapers in reverse by taking the sections and rearranging them in order to read as many articles as possible before doing battle with the editorial section. The Sports section is always first. It’s like stretching before a work out — not legally required, but strongly encouraged.

SO. Wednesday’s lead editorial headline in the WSJ print edition really grabbed my attention:

The Great Pandemic Migration

Boom.

The online version reads like this:

The Great Pandemic Migration
Census data reveal huge shifts out of the most locked-down states.

As Sheriff Buford T. Justice would say, “That’s an attention getter.” Continue reading

Virginia Migration Trends

Net Domestic and International Migration, Virginia, 2010-2020. Source: “2021 State of the Commonwealth Report”

by James A. Bacon

Over the decade between 2010 and 2020, Virginia lost more than 80,000 inhabitants through domestic out-migration (a figure that captures the number of people moving across state lines within the United States). But it more than offset that loss through an international in-migration of roughly 300,000, according to data published in the “2021 State of the Commonwealth Report” by the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University.

When broken down by metropolitan area, it turns out that the net domestic out-migration was concentrated in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads metropolitan statistical areas. The Northern Virginia component of the Washington MSA lost a net of 157,000 domestic residents, while Hampton Roads bled 61,000. All of the state’s smaller metros, led by Richmond with 41,000, gained inhabitants through domestic in-migration. Continue reading

Virginia’s Changing Public School Demographics – COVID Edition

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia’s public schools underwent significant changes in enrollment between 2018-19 and 2020-21.

The figures for this school year have yet to be released.

In the three-year period ending 2020-21, Virginia public schools saw a decline of 37,775 students, a loss of 2.9%.

The racial and social-economic demographics also changed. The numbers and percentages of Hispanic, Asian and mixed race children bucked the overall trend and increased. Continue reading

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI+) Pilot – Hidden Data, Disappearing Value — Thanks for Nothing

by James C. Sherlock

This is a follow-up to my Monday report on VPI+, a federally funded four-year pilot program to assess the value of the Virginia Preschool Initiative.

Today we will discuss what was not reported to the public. We will also assess the dreadful results of the pilot participants after those kids graduated and went on the kindergarten and first grade.

Clearly, SRI International (main report) and RAND (cost-benefit report) were directed not to disaggregate the results of the data they collected by division and school. Those, of course, are the levels that give parents enough information to evaluate the program.

What was revealed, at the very end of the main report, was that disadvantaged kids participating had made learning gains compared to their disadvantaged peers who did not attend, but

“like other state public preschool programs, by spring of first grade the differences were no longer statistically different.”

That heart-breaking outcome was left un-assessed.

The mandarins at VDOE (and perhaps the federal DOE) appear to believe that pre-school is too important for parents to get involved.

If given full information, some might challenge the program or decide it is not appropriate for their own children in their local school district.

Like the domestic terrorists some of them are considered in certain circles to be. Continue reading

Big Lessons from Government Data on Virginia’s 286 Nursing Facilities

by James C. Sherlock

Nursing facilities in Virginia offer an incredible mixed bag. There are heroes and villains. Much to see here.

This column will offer expansive  views of government data on each of the 286 nursing facilities in this state.  

I found out a lot things that really matter to the quality of a nursing facility in Virginia. And a lot of things about government oversight.  nd government insurance payments.

From the visualization aids I provide, so will you.

  • You will find absolutely outstanding facilities.  
  • You will find others that have fallen so short of government standards for so long that you will wonder why Virginia does not revoke their licenses.  
  • You will see the nursing homes in your region.  
  • You will see which chains deliver excellent facilities and which do not, apparently as business models in both cases. Many chains tend to be consistently good or consistently bad. They are color coded in the “Group Ownership” column based upon the overall performance of the chain.  
  • Take a look at the staffing star ratings. Those are based on quarterly filings of data that is linked to payrolls, so it is relatively up to date and relatively accurate. One- or two-star staffing is a very bad sign.
  • You will see the stunning outperformance of nursing facilities in continuing care facilities in Virginia, also as a function of business models.
  • Nursing home inputs — people — enter nursing homes in much different physical conditions and ages. You will see that where you live is a statistical predictor of health. And therefore of the nursing home challenges in areas of poor health. Which tracks with areas of poverty. And low government insurance payments.

Finally, take a look at the Inspection activity.  

It reflects the massive understaffing of the VDH inspectors. Look at the “Last standard (full) health inspection” column. You will see coded in red that 42 (15%) of Virginia’s nursing facilities have not been fully inspected since 2018.  The federal requirement is once a year.  

You will be convinced by the data that strict and timely government oversight is required to ensure, and ensure Virginians of, of nursing facility quality.  

The state must fix the statutory and budget issues that have resulted, purposely, in Office of Licensure and Inspection staffing shortfalls. Continue reading

2020 Virginia Population Projections Were Close to the Mark

Absolute Percentage Difference Between 2020 Projections and Census Count. Source: StatChat

The Weldon Cooper for Public Service at the University of Virginia, in charge of the state’s demographic count, has given itself a pat on the back for its ten-year projection of 2020 Virginia population. The self congratulations are probably deserved.

Weldon Cooper’s projection was only 0.27% higher than the Census Count. The actual population increase was 7.4% between 2010 and 2020. Also, projections for 90% of Virginia’s localities fell within 5% of the actual count.

Making population projections is a tricky business. Check out Shonel Sen’s discussion on the StatChat blog to get an idea of the challenge. The projections are used by a wide variety of state agencies for planning purposes, so accurate forecasts are important.

— JAB

Virginia Job Growth Trails U.S. Averages

Click for larger view.

by A. Fletcher Mangum

A. Fletcher Mangum

Virginia’s employment growth has been underperforming the national economy for quite some time. As shown in Figure 1, soon after the recovery from the Great Recession began in earnest in 2011 Virginia’s year-over-year growth in total employment uncharacteristically fell behind the national economy and even briefly went negative in 2014.

Then in early 2020, just as in the rest of the country, economic conditions in Virginia changed drastically when the governors’ lockdowns of economic activity were imposed in response to the pandemic. Between March and April of that year nearly 20 million jobs were lost nationally (or approximately one out of every eight jobs in the country), while in Virginia the employment loss was 428,000 jobs (or approximately one out of every nine jobs in the state). Virginia was not as badly hit as the nation as a whole because of its heavy dependence on federal employment and contracting (which were not significantly impacted by the lockdowns) and disproportionate employment in the Professional and Business Services sector (where people were better able to work remotely).

However, history is now repeating itself as Virginia once again falls behind the nation in the recovery and that trend is getting worse. In April of this year, when year-over-year employment growth turned the corner and moved into positive territory nationally, Virginia trailed the pack and continues to do so. In April Virginia ranked 41st among the states in year-over-year total employment growth, gained ground to hit 32nd in May and 30th in June , and then fell back to 39th in July and all the way to 47th in August. Continue reading

Map of the Day: College Acceptance Rates

Source: Virginia Public Access Project

If you’re applying to one of Virginia’s four-year colleges, you stand the best chance of being admitted if you come from a non-metropolitan area, judging by this map compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project on the basis of recently published State Council of Higher Education for Virginia data. The odds are best of all if you come from one of Virginia’s coalfield counties.

Of the 74 students from Dickenson County who applied to a Virginia college in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years, 97.4% were admitted somewhere. That compares to a 71.1% admittance rate for Fairfax County students. On the other hand, the number of Fairfax students applying to college was immeasurably larger — more than 22,000. Continue reading

Time for Amputation: NoVa Merging with “New D.C.”

D.C. Statehood. There has been a long running chorus of cries for D.C. residents to have full representation in Congress. From “Taxation Without Representation” slogans on D.C. license plates to the Biden Administration’s calls for DC to become the 51st state … this debate has gone on for a while. Most discussion devolves into pure politics. D.C. would bring two more liberal U.S. senators and a liberal U.S. Representative who can vote. People either love or hate that idea. Back in May I wrote a column on this blog about Northern Virginia joining D.C. in the 51st state.  In this column I’d like to put aside the politics and focus on the ethical considerations for making D.C. a state.

Because they’re Americans. The nearly 700,000 residents of Washington,  D.C., pay their full share of federal taxes. Residents of D.C. were subject to be drafted in times of war, fought and died in our country’s battles and are required to obey all laws passed by Congress. In other words, D.C. residents have all the responsibilities of American citizenship. However, they are not represented in the U.S. Congress. They have no senators and their one representative can’t vote. The biggest ethical reason to make D.C. a state is so its citizens have all the rights of being American, including the right to representation in Congress. Continue reading

Are Poor Rural White Wise County Evangelicals More Antiracist than the Wealthy, Urbane Citizens of Loudoun?

   

by James C. Sherlock

Many are fascinated with the nationally infamous Loudoun County School Board. Board members seem preoccupied with driving social change without pausing to look at data.  

I have thought someone ought to check how the Loudoun students have been faring in SOLs to see if there are academic issues that need to be addressed.  

State data show that in too many Loudoun high schools Black, Hispanic, immigrant and the poor students performed poorly in math SOLs. The data are presented relative to state average math SOL pass rates for those cohorts, which in many cases themselves are very disturbing in an absolute sense.

It is not a resource problem.  

Loudoun is the nation’s richest county in median household income and neighboring Fairfax County is among the top few. Median household incomes in Loudoun were $142,299 and Fairfax $124,831. The state average median household income was about half Loudoun’s.  

Again as before, 2018-19 remains the base year for assessments because that was the last year that SOLs were not interrupted by COVID and subsequently the last year for which the state has district and individual school evaluation data.

The Loudoun County School Board and its school superintendent need to investigate why students in all racial and social cohorts in profoundly poor Wise County in Southwestern Virginia crushed Loudoun students in high school math SOLs.

Maybe they will learn something. And then perhaps the students will.

You know, real school board work. Continue reading

The One-Sided Decision in the Reversion of Martinsville – the Start of a Trend?

by James C. Sherlock

The Martinsville Bulletin, perhaps the best remaining newspaper in the state for local coverage, published a must-read article on the reversion of Martinsville from city to town and joining Henry County.

Overview

Martinsville’s current city logo, above, was perhaps prescient. Martinsville has been hemorrhaging population, losing more than 18% in the past 10 years, and was financially stressed before that loss.

Reversion in Virginia is a one-handed game. The small cities hold all of the cards.

Henry County is vocally opposed but feels helpless to stop it. The Henry County Supervisors voted to skip the legal process to avoid the costs. They called the reversion MOU “the best we could hope for and voted for it to avoid years of court battles”.

They are right  What they avoided was the special court that would have overseen the reversion under Virginia law had they not come to an agreement. The county would have been a defendant in a trial.

The rules for that court specified in that law give the small cities every advantage in a trial. That same special court would have overseen the transition for a decade. Every decision.

The changes reversion portends for city and county residents are massive. Now that his has happened, does anyone think this will be the last reversion? Continue reading

Should Northern Virginia Join D.C. in the 51st State?

State flag of New Columbia (including NoVa)?

By Don Rippert

Taxation without representation. The Democratic Party’s control of Congress and the White House has reopened the question of statehood for Washington, DC. This is not a new issue. The question of statehood for D.C. has been actively debated since 1980. Since the 98th Congress, more than a dozen statehood bills have been introduced. Two made it out of committee. The closest any bill came to success was a 1993 effort that was defeated 277 to 193 in the US House of Representatives. Support for D.C. statehood lies almost entirely along party lines with Democrats favoring statehood since it would yield two U.S. Senators and one Representative — all of whom would almost certainly be liberal Democrats. Republican opposition has been insurmountable over the years. Maybe a major repackaging of the idea of statehood for D.C. could break the logjam. Continue reading

Who Hit the Brakes on NoVa Growth?

Hamilton Lombard. Photo credit: UVA Today

by James A. Bacon

Northern Virginia’s population is growing, but not nearly as fast as before. According to a new study by University of Virginia demographer Hamilton Lombard, Northern Virginia accounted for 66.5% of the state’s population growth between 2010 and 2019, but slipped to 33.7% in the last year.

“While Northern Virginia is still growing in population, its recent slowdown is remarkable given how long so much of Virginia’s population growth has been concentrated in Northern Virginia,” Lombard said in an interview with UVA Today. “Since 1980, Northern Virginia has contributed to over half of the commonwealth’s entire population growth. Earlier in the 2010s, over two-thirds of Virginia’s population growth occurred in Northern Virginia.”

“Yet, since the mid-2010s, population growth in Northern Virginia has slowed considerably as more residents have left the region, often moving to other Southern states,” Lombard said. “Some of the initial out-migration may have been driven by the federal budget sequestration and shutdowns, which slowed growth in the region’s economy.”

Northern Virginia has driven demographic, political and economic change in Virginia over the past three or four decades. The region now dominates the state in much the same way that Chicago overshadows the rest of Illinois and New York City runs the Empire State. A marked slowdown in the region’s growth could have momentous consequences for Virginia’s economic prosperity and political economy. Here’s the big question: Was 2020 a transitory blip or does it portend longer-lasting changes? Continue reading