Home Building: Now for something completely different

During the past decade major changes in population growth patterns were evident in Virginia. In contrast to what happened in the early 2000s housing boom, when many counties on the edges of urban areas became some of the fastest growing in the country, when the boom ended, these same “exurban” counties declined in population. At the same time, after decades of stagnation and decline, urban centers began to grow again during the early 2000s.

One way to understand these dramatic changes in where Virginia’s population grew is to analyze home construction activity because it is often one of the most reliable indicators of population and economic change.

During the early 2000s, Virginia underwent a real estate boom that mirrored what was occurring nationally in the wake of broadening access to mortgages. In Virginia, home prices rose in many parts of the state during this time, but particularly in larger metro areas. In Fairfax County, for example, the median home sale price more than doubled from $220,000 in 2000 to $545,000 in 2005. Rising home prices forced many home buyers to move farther out from urban areas for affordable homes in the exurbs.

Change in the Number of Homes Constructed 2000 to 2005

Before 2005 2

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Who are the 11 million?

With the recent push by Senate lawmakers and the White House for immigration reform, one number is being tossed around a lot.  It has been estimated that there are about 11 million illegal residents in the United States.  Where does that number come from and who exactly are these people?

These questions were highlighted in a recent National Journal article by Brian Resnick, which describes the work of Pew Hispanic Center demographer Jeffrey Passel, whose estimates of the illegal immigrant population have become widely used in the media.  The illegal immigrant population cannot be directly measured by any of the major national surveys.  Unsurprisingly, response rates for voluntary, and even legally-required, surveys are particularly low for the illegal population.   Instead, Passel and the Pew Hispanic Center rely on a methodology that indirectly measures this group of people.  Here’s how it works:

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Virginia Population Estimates Show Impact of Aging, Resurgence of Cities

Every year, the Cooper Center produces the official population estimates for the commonwealth of Virginia. The current estimates are based on changes since the 2010 census in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths, and driver’s licenses. They are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, planning and budgeting.

Since 2010, Virginia has grown faster than the nation, growing by 2.3% between the 2010 census and July 2, 2012, to nearly 8.2 million residents. Within Virginia, the largest population gains continue to be concentrated in the urban centers of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. And much of Virginia’s overall growth remains driven by the rapid growth of Northern Virginia, with 54% of the state’s growth between 2010 and 2012 occurring in NoVA.

Figure 1. Numerical Population Change, 2010-2012

Numerical Change 2010-2012

Although many growth patterns in the population estimates appear to be the continuation of past trends – Northern Virginia’s continued growth, stagnant growth and population loss in more rural areas of the state—the 2012 estimates also show signs of population aging and renewed growth in Virginia’s independent cities.

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Virginia’s Changing Population Growth Trends

The Census population estimates for 2011, released early in April, received a good deal of attention in the media, in large part because the estimates showed a noticeable change in population growth patterns from those of the last decade. Growth from April 2010 to July 2011 was concentrated in urban areas in contrast to the previous pattern when, at the height of the housing market in 2006, the highest rates of growth were in the outer-suburban counties. USA Today produced an excellent map showing the change in growth patterns by comparing the growth rate in 2006 with that of 2011.

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