With input from Hamilton, I’ve been looking recently at how metropolitan areas change as one travels from the center to the periphery. The following charts show the percent of the population 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees. The graphs are based on concentric rings coming out from the center of downtown. I’ve included reference maps with distances and put lines on the graphs to correspond to the circles on the map.
It’s important to note that this is for adults who are 25 and older. While college towns have high numbers of educated residents and that shows up on the graphs, these numbers do not include actual undergraduate students or recent graduates.
Data for 1990 and 2000 comes from the long-form census. Data for 2012 is from the American Community Survey’s 2008-2012 5-year estimates. The census long form survey disappeared after the 2000 census, so questions that would have been on the long form (like education level) are now collected as part of the American Community Survey.
The Weldon Cooper Center, under contract with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), developed and released in 2012 the most recent round of official state population projections for Virginia. These projections, consistent with others commissioned or developed in the past by the VEC, focus primarily on trends in the number of people currently living in Virginia and expected to live in Virginia ten, twenty, and thirty years from now
It’s one thing to think about growth in terms of numbers of people, but another to think about it in spatial terms – as the growth of physical urbanized areas. For a while now, I’ve been working on a GIS model that will do that. I’ve posted it before on my own blog, but since then I’ve cleaned it up and made it follow our regional population projections more rigidly.
Here’s a land cover raster (an image showing what primarily covers each 15Mx15M square of land) of Virginia in 2006. All developed land is in red. It’s a great image of the shape of our metro areas.
As Hamilton noted when posting the map of updated Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the MSA’s are calculated with commuting statistics. If more than 25% of workers in a locality commute to a nearby metropolitan area, that county is considered to be closely linked to it. This is a useful cutoff point, but like all cutoffs, it is completely arbitrary. I mapped five of the state’s largest MSA’s to show the degree to which their surrounding counties are dependent on them. This is important to understand since a significant part of Virginia’s “rural” areas are becoming increasingly exurban – dependent on nearby urban economies rather than agriculture or local industries. Again, 25% is the cutoff for inclusion in the MSA (see Hamilton’s map linked above). That includes all workers commuting to one of the core counties of the MSA. The “core counties” are not explicitly listed anywhere that we’ve been able to find, but there is a definition and by working backwards from the commuting numbers it’s not too hard to figure out.
Much has been made of the living preferences and economic situation of millenials. In the current economy, most localities can expect to lose almost all of their brightest young people to college towns. Whether these localities are able to lure these college graduates back is another story, and an important one since (many argue) it’s during the free-and-easy years after college that most young people will start businesses, launch careers, and develop regional networks and allegiances.
In this post, I’ll take a closer look at the people who were in their 20’s during the 2010 census. That’s people born between 1980 and 1990. As one might expect, those 80’s babies were reasonably well-distributed when the prior census was taken in 2000. At this point, the millennials were anywhere from 10 to 19 years old. There was an uptick in college towns (18 and 19 year-olds), but it wasn’t huge. In fact, that uptick helps to balance out the number of millenials who were undergraduates during the 2010 census (20 and 21 year-olds).
Ten years later, some of those kids are still in college or graduate school, some are young professionals, some are in the military, some are in prison, and some have young families with several kids.