Virginia as Nation’s 10th Most Populous State?

Source: StatChat blog

Virginia’s population growth has slowed in recent years, but the Old Dominion still is expected to grow faster than the nation as a whole. At current growth rates, Virginia could become the 10th most populous state in the country by 2040, according to Shonel Sen with the Demographic Research Group at the University of Virginia.

During the 2000-2010 decade, Virginia experienced an average annual growth rate of 13%. That has slowed to a 9% growth rate in the current decade, writes Sen in the StatChat blog. But the growth rate of other states has slowed as well.

In 2010, Virginia was the 12th most populous state. Assuming current trends continue, the Old Dominion should surpass New Jersey by 2030, ranking 11th. And by 2040, Virginia will surpass Michigan to become No. 10.

The thing about most trends is that eventually they end. But insofar as the governance philosophies of states remain relatively constant, and insofar as population trends reflect state-level political and economic conditions conducive to economic growth, there is a lot of inertia in population trends in states with large, diverse economies. This scenario actually could happen.

In related commentary, Sen has published a map showing how the geographic center of Virginia’s population has moved since 1940. Just before World War II, the population center was in Cumberland County. As Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia urbanized, the center progressively moved east through 1970. Then, as Northern Virginia came to dominate economic and population growth, the center moved due north, and is projected to continue to move north, almost to Fredericksburg, by 2040.

Map credit: StatChat

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3 responses to “Virginia as Nation’s 10th Most Populous State?”

  1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Dear Jim,

    This, I am assuming, presupposes continued high rates of immigration into the U.S. and also high levels of Federal spending. If these “trends”, i.e. policies, continue, then we can expect more development and traffic, less undeveloped land, and higher taxes. Hopefully, these policies will be reversed and their ill effects abated.



  2. djrippert Avatar

    As of 2013 Virginia was America’s 12th most populous state. So, moving to 10th by 2040 isn’t Earth shattering. Impressive, maybe. Earth shattering, no.

    Once again … our state government needs to look at other US states that have grown quickly and risen in the state rankings. Some have done this well, some have done it poorly. All have lessons to learn. Texas went from 6th in 1950 to 2nd today for example. What did Texas do right, what did Texas do wrong?

    If history is any judge … our General Assembly (in their perpetual stupor) will blunder into the future without any systematic thinking about the impact of faster than average population growth. That group proved their inability to think clearly when they held the gas tax constant (in cents per gallon) for 26 years while Virginia’s population boomed.

  3. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Given dyslexia, I have always been Chart Challenged. But this chart shown above appears to illustrate nothing of value, discernible or otherwise. Either that or perhaps its uniquely difficult or subtle, instead of irrelevant to any useful conclusions or insights, even in the world of Bacon Rebellion.

    For example, have not Caroline and Cumberland Counties historically been the center of nothing, save for those few who live there?

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