A few weeks ago I cited United Van Line data suggesting that more people continued in 2017 to move out of Virginia than moved in. Now Hamilton Lombard at the University of Virginia’s Demographic Research Group has confirmed the trend using Internal Revenue Service data.
Total population continued to grow last year thanks to natural population increase, but the overall rate slowed due to continued out-migration, Lombard reported in the StatChat blog. The sustained emigration trend represents a marked departure from previous decades.
Though Virginia added over 50,000 new residents in the past year, growth is noticeably slower than ten years ago when Virginia’s population was increasing by closer to 100,000 annually. Over the past five years, Virginia’s population grew by 3.2 percent, which is slightly less than overall growth of the U.S. population at 3.5 percent.
The deceleration in population growth is particularly noticeable in Fairfax County, home to one in seven Virginians.
A disproportionate share of young Virginians, particularly those who have graduated college, move to Fairfax for their first jobs. After they have become more established in their careers and often after starting a family, many Fairfax County residents begin moving out farther into Northern Virginia’s suburbs, while a large number move out of Northern Virginia altogether. As a result of out-migration (since 2010), Fairfax County has lost 18,000 residents, but it has also gained 82,000 residents as there were more births than deaths.
Migration data shows that most Virginia counties grew during the 2000s in part from Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia residents relocating to them. However, during the last recession, out-migration from Fairfax County to other Virginia counties slowed and even as the economy has recovered, this remains the case as more Fairfax County residents are moving out of state rather than to other Virginia counties.
It might be tempting to blame outmigration and slower population growth on Northern Virginia’s travails arising from cuts in military spending and other budgetary issues emanating from the nation’s capital. But the slowdown is is a near-universal phenomenon, as can be seen in this map:
We can hope that the Amazon will reverse the outmigration trend. While Amazon’s HQ2 project undoubtedly will make a difference in Northern Virginia, it won’t do much for the Rest of Virginia. Virginia has transformed from a Red state politically to a Purple state, and it’s fast becoming a Blue state — the latest round of redistricting will see to that by shifting the gerrymandering advantage from Republicans to Democrats. As I have observed in the context of taxes, entitlements and environmental regulation, Virginia is becoming New Jersey.
Lombard optimistically predicts that “Virginia population growth will likely increase as out-migration lessens” in the next decade. My gut tells me differently. As Virginia turners bluer and bluer, the trickle of outmigration will turn into a stream. It will take a while before people flee the state in the same numbers as they are from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and the like, but we’ll get there eventually.There are currently no comments highlighted.