Foreign, Native-Born Migratory Trends in Virginia’s Metros

Source: “2019 State of the Commonwealth Report”

Reflecting its lagging economic growth in the 2010s, Virginia experienced an unfamiliar sensation — more native-born Americans moving out than moving in. Or, as demographers put it, negative net domestic migration. Thanks to natural population increase and strong international immigration, Virginia’ s population continued growing through the decade. But the domestic out-migration was a sign of economic fragility.

Old Dominion University’s “2019 State of the Commonwealth Report” takes a close-up look at the migratory patterns, breaking down the numbers by metropolitan area. The state’s two largest metro accounted for almost the entire outflow of native-born residents. Hampton Roads hemorrhaged domestic residents, losing 61,000 between 2010 and 2018., while Northern Virginia drained 44,000. Blacksburg leaked a small number, less than a thousand. Fortunately, Virginia’s other metros continued to enjoy a net gain in domestic citizens. Richmond gained 34,000.

Northern Virginia more than made up the lost for domestic-born residents through an influx of foreign-born residents: 167,000 between 2010 and 2018. Immigrants replaced the number of domestic out-migrants four times over, and accounted for three out of five of all new immigrants in the state. Hampton Roads was the second-largest recipient of foreigners, although the number was not sufficient to offset the flight of domestic residents.

Virginia’s small metros — Roanoke, Charlottesville, Winchester, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, and Staunton — all experienced populations gains from both domestic and international in-migration.

Unfortunately for armchair demographers,  the 2019 State of the Commonwealth Report did not break out rural (non-metropolitan Virginia). However, according to my trusty calculator, non-metropolitan Virginia experienced the following:

Natural population growth: 26,155
Net domestic migration: -13,597
Net international migration: 4,061

The fastest-growing metros between 2010 and 2018 were:

Northern Virginia — 12.0%
Winchester — 8.7%
Richmond — 8.0%
Harrisonburg — 7.9%
Charlottesville — 7.4%
Virginia — 6.2%
United States — 5.8%
Lynchburg — 4.1%
Staunton — 4.0%
Blacksburg — 3.1%
Hampton Roads — 2.6%
Roanoke — 1.8%

— JAB 

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5 responses to “Foreign, Native-Born Migratory Trends in Virginia’s Metros”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I suspect that the out migrations in both NoVa and Hampton Roads are related to federal spending. That would be especially true in Hampton Roads where the relocation of the home port of an aircraft carrier would affect a lot of residents of the area. As Amazon builds its new headquarters in NoVa, that should improve the in-migration.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date on these demographic trends.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Dick, a lot of ordinary middle and working class people have been moving out of NoVA for more than a decade because of the ever-increasing cost-of-living, including property tax increases, and declining standard of living, including traffic, over-used parks, over-crowded schools. I suspect the average age of those leaving is higher.

      Your suggestions about Amazon and the Navy may well come true.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    So – do people that move out of NoVa to live in exurbia but still work in NoVa – counted as “out-migration”?

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, as I understand it, it depends on the geographic location you are measuring. If it’s Fairfax County, I believe demographers would consider a move to Spotsylvania County as out-migration.

  3. Pamela Baldwin Avatar
    Pamela Baldwin

    Are the migration data available by county? I would like to see the numbers for Loudoun County, which is (I believe) the fastest-growing county in the state.

    [Note: If this reply appears to come from Malcolm Baldwin, please update your records as he has been deceased for over a year. Please send all future posts to Pamela Baldwin. Thank you.]

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