Population Data

Population

Northern Virginia is on the front lines of a demographic transformation shaping the United States. There has been an extraordinary amount of population growth in Northern Virginia.  The April 1st Decennial Census population  of Northern Virginia was 1,466,350 in 1990, 1,815,197 in 2000, and 2,230,623 in 2010.  On July 1, 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Program, Northern Virginia had an estimated population of 2,522,001.  

Population Growth

From 2000 to 2010

Key Facts:

  • A population increase of 415,000, surpassing a previous decennial record of 360,000 added during the 1980’s.

  • The population growth during the decade was equivalent to adding a number that exceeded the 2010 population count for Prince William County.

  • An average annual gain of nearly 42,000.

  • A ten-year growth rate of 23% compared to 9% nationally.

  • The population growth of Northern Virginia exceeded the population growth recorded in 35 of the 50 U.S. states.

  • Two-thirds of the population growth of the Washington metropolitan region settled on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

  • Two-thirds of the population growth of Northern Virginia was located along the outer-ring suburbs of Prince William, Loudoun Counties, and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  This was the first time in the history of Northern Virginia that the preponderance of new population growth moved to the outer rim.

From 2010 to 2018

Key Facts:

  • Eight years out from the last Census, Northern Virginia has added approximately 290,000 people, an increase that is greater than that found in 17 states over the eight-year peri­od.

  • Growth has slowed down some this decade in Northern Virginia, but it is still large and impactful on the region.  The average annual gain since 2010 has been 36,000.  

  • An eight-year growth rate of 13% compared to 6% nationally.

  • Aside from the low annual growth from 2005 to 2006, the annual growth of the last five years has been the lowest since 2000.  The Washington metropolitan region has an economy that is heavily dependent on the federal government.  In 2013 federal sequestration began.  Slower population growth in Northern Virginia has occurred since 2013 and federal employment in the Washington metropolitan region has dropped according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic. 

  • Where in Northern Virginia the growth is locating this decade is different than in the 1990s and 2000s.

    • The preponderance of population growth of Northern Virginia continues to be located in the outer-ring suburbs of Prince William, Loudoun Counties, and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  However, the share of the region's growth that is in the outer-ring has dropped from 65.1% to 57.5%. 

    • Arlington has seen its share of the region's growth double from what it experienced in the 1990's and 2000's.

    • Alexandria has seen its share of the region's growth become 2.5 times what it experienced in the 2000's.

    • Intensification of developmental pressures this decade in the inner-core are a response to the millennial generation preferences, demographics, urbanization, transportation and other market pressures.

Minority-Majority Transition

A big story of the region is the minority-majority transition.  There will soon be a day when the majority of people will belong to a minority group (any group other than non-Hispanic White alone).  Much of this is attributed to the sizable increases in the number of Hispanics and Asians in the region.

Key Facts:

  • In 2000, Northern Virginia's minority population was 34.6%, which was fairly similar to Virginia and the United States, with the difference being 4 or 5 percentage points. 

  • In 2018, Northern Virginia was nearly minority-majority, with a minority population of 49.4%.  Northern Virginia's rate of increase of the minority population is much greater than the United States and Virginia.  The region is now 10 or 11 percentage points higher than Virginia and the United States.

  • From 2000 to 2010, 88 percent of the net population increase in Northern Virginia came from increases in minorities.  From 2010 to 2018, it was 90 percent.

Foreign Born Population Transformation

Another big story is the foreign born population transforming the region.  The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most diverse in the country when taking into consideration the minority and foreign born population make-up.  Northern Virginia contains a sizable amount of the metropolitan area's diverse population.

It is immigration that has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region, including:

  • School enrollment changes

  • Sizable increases in the number of Hispanics and Asians

  • Population and labor force growth

Foreign Born Population Share - Current

 

2013 to 2017 Five-Year Estimates

All jurisdictions in the United States are included in the five-year American Community Survey estimates. The share of the population that is foreign born, for all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, is displayed in this graph.  Northern Virginia's foreign born population share is 27.4%.  All Northern Virginia jurisdiction's have a foreign born population share that is greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States.  Out of all 3,141 jurisdictions in the USA, all are ranked #135 or higher.  The region's highest ranked are Manassas Park City (10th) and Fairfax (25th), both of which have a greater foreign born population share than New York County, New York (Manhattan) (35th).  Back in 2000, all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia had a foreign born population share that was less than Manhattan.  These high ranks of the region's jurisdictions are indicative of a transforming region and the very diverse population of Northern Virginia and the DC metropolitan area.  

2018 One-Year Estimates

Those jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more are included in the one-year American Community Survey estimates. The share of the population that is foreign born, for all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, is displayed in this graph.  All Northern Virginia jurisdiction's have a foreign born population share that is greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States.  Out of the 838 jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more in the USA, all are ranked #41 or higher, with the region's highest ranked, large jurisdicton being Fairfax (16th). Fairfax has a greater foreign born population share than New York County, New York (Manhattan) (22nd).  Back in 2000, all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia had a foreign born population share that was less than Manhattan.  These high ranks of the region's jurisdictions are indicative of a transforming region and the very diverse population of Northern Virginia and the DC metropolitan area.  

Foreign Born Population Share - Historic Compared to Current

Immigration has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region.  The foreign born population is transforming the region.   Northern Virginia's population was 21.4% foreign born in 2000 and has risen to 27.4% (2013-2017 ACS 5Yr Estimate).  Similar to today, back in 2000 all Northern Virginia jurisdiction's had a foreign born population share that was greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. What is different is that all jurisdictions in the region, except Arlington, have seen their foreign born population share increase.  The greatest transformations have occurred in the four outer-core jurisdictions of Loudoun, Manassas City, Manassas Park, and Prince William.  These four outer-core jurisdictions are the same jurisdictions that comprise a majority of the regions overall population growth.

Foreign Born Population - Trend

The foreign born population trend, for the regions large jurisdictions (population of 65,000 or more), is shown in the following graphs. The total foreign born population of Northern Virginia has been on the rise in Northern Virginia.  However, this changed in 2018 when the foreign born population decreased by approximately 10,000 persons.  Between 2017 and 2018 there were increases in the region's naturalized citizen population.  Therefore, the absolute decrease is attributable to non-citizen populations migrating out of the area in greater amounts than naturalized citizens moving into the area.  For comparison, from 2017 to 2018 the nation experienced its smallest increase in the foreign born population since 2010.  Similar to our region, the nation experienced an increase in naturalized citizens and a decline in non-citizens from 2017 to 2018. The nation's slow growth was attributable to an absolute decline in the number of non-citizens. The legal status of non-citizens is unknown and not collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in any of its data sets. 

3040 Williams Drive

Suite 200

Fairfax, Virginia 22031

703-642-0700

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon

© 2019 Northern Virginia Regional Commission