Category Archives: Demographics

Data of the Day: Lusting for Luxury Lifestyles

Virginia scores 8th nationally in the frequency of Google searches for “luxury,” “luxury cars,” “Luxury goods,” “luxury travel,” and “luxury apartments,” according to Chrono24, the maker of luxury watches. The fascination with luxury goods appears to be mainly an East Coast phenomenon, with New York topping the list. Lest you think that the metric of luxury-goods searches is a proxy for per-capita income, consider that Mississippi appears third on the list. As a Chrono24 spokesman noted, “It is important to realize that having an interest in luxury living is different from actual living a life of luxury.”

The fascination with luxury eludes me. I subscribe to the philosophy of living within your means. In my case, living within my means rules out driving BMWs, wearing gold-plated watches, and sojourning in 5-star resorts. I don’t spend a lot of time drooling over things I cannot have. Similarly, I’m not remotely interested in the lives of the rich and famous, especially those who think that the ostentatious display of luxury will give purpose and meaning to their existence.


Parents Taking Their Children Out of Poor Performing Virginia Public Schools by the Tens of Thousands

by James C. Sherlock

Would you send your kid to this school? No? Someone else’s kid is attending it — or skipping school.

Accreditation data for a middle school in a chronically failing Virginia school division – Level 3 is the worst possible grade

Virginia public sch0ols lost 4% of their fall student memberships, a total of 46,165 students, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2021, while their budgets from the state went up.

But the state in those same two years is also estimated to have gained 33,619 persons between the ages of 5-19 eligible to attend those schools.

Statewide statistics mask the stories of individual county and city divisions, and of demographic groups within the school divisions. We will sample some of those across the state.

What we do know, both from the state statistics and the individual school division examples below, is that parents have been absolutely rational.

Those that could took their kids out of poor-performing school divisions and schools in large numbers, but less so or not at all from the best ones.

We need to try something else in the bad ones. Something else entirely. Continue reading

North of the James: Fastest Growing Housing Prices on the East Coast

Growth in Home Values 2000 to 2019. Source:

by James A. Bacon

Ever since the late 1930s Virginia’s population has grown faster than that of the nation — until the past few years, that is. Recently, Virginia has experienced a slight net out-migration of domestic residents, and population growth has slowed to match that of the U.S. as a whole.

Writing in the StatChat blog, Hamilton Lombard at the University of Virginia’s Demographics Research Group suggests that a contributing factor is the relative rising cost of housing. He writes:

As recently as the 1990s, Virginia was, like its southern neighbors, a significantly more affordable place to live than most northeastern states. The median home price in Virginia in 1990 was half that of Connecticut but close to a third more than in North Carolina. However, over the past couple of decades, home prices in most places in Virginia rose faster than the rest of country. Continue reading

Virginia Needs Better Information Sharing to Provide Mandated Public Services to Illegals Efficiently and Effectively

by James C. Sherlock

I am on record as a persistent advocate of improving the quality of both schools and medical services for poor and minority citizens. It has been the main focus of my work for years.

In a directly related matter, we read, with different reactions depending upon our politics, of the struggles with uncontrolled immigration on border states on the one hand and D.C, New York City and Los Angeles on the other.

We are treated to the public spectacle of the mayors of sanctuary cities deploring massive new influxes of illegal border-crossers and asking for federal assistance. It provides one of the best object lessons in being careful what you ask for in recent public life.

All of that is interesting, but Virginians know that the problem is increasing. They know Virginia can’t fix it, and they want to know how Virginia will deal with it.

By law we owe illegals services. And we need to provide them efficiently and effectively both for humanitarian reasons and to ensure that citizens are not unnecessarily negatively affected.

There is work to do. Continue reading

Is D.C.’s Loss Virginia’s Gain?

Boarded up store in Washington, D.C.’s chi chi Georgetown district. Photo credit: Washingtonian

by Bruce Majors

Mayor Muriel Bowser — elected to a third term in a June 21 primary where only 27% of registered voters voted, and only 14% voted for her — is lamenting the bus loads of illegal immigrants that Texas politicians are shipping to D.C. Apparently DC homeless shelters are full.

Maybe she should be happy though?

Walking along M Street NW from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in West End, past the Four Seasons in Georgetown, to the Francis Scott Key bridge that takes one to Arlington, Virginia, was usually a pleasant stroll through one of DC’s most upscale shopping districts.

But if you take this walk today, one thing you will notice is that every fourth or fifth storefront is closed, for lease, papered over, or boarded up.

When the city was still mask-mandated and locked down – and other towns and cities were on fire, marred by rioting, or occupied by “autonomous zones” – this might have seemed normal. D.C. isn’t locked down anymore. Yet Georgetown and other areas remain surprisingly vacated.

D.C. is shrinking. Continue reading

Hospitals Continue to Cut Labor and Delivery and NICU Services

Credit Kylie Johnson Photography

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia and the nation continue to see the results of the baby bust.

I wrote yesterday of the baby cliff, the 15% decline in live births that started in the great recession of 2007-09. It continues. And it continues to drive change, much of it not good.

I have written here about such important hospital changes as:

  • the closing of labor and delivery services at Virginia Beach General Hospital and elsewhere in the state; and
  • the consolidation of Neo-natal ICU (NICU) services with the integration of two hospital systems into Ballad Health in Southwestern Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee.

That too is a continuing national trend.

Today’s young people of child-bearing age will find not only fewer places to deliver a child than their parents did, but also to provide specialized care if the baby needs it. Continue reading

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


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.


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