May 7, 2024 - News

How Virginia's population is changing

Map of U.S. counties showing the change in population from 2020 to 2023. Overall, the U.S. population grew by 1%. Idaho, Florida and South Carolina saw the most population growth, while New York, Illinois and Louisiana saw the most decline.
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

More people are moving to the Richmond area, according to new estimates from the Census Bureau.

Why it matters: It's driving population growth and possibly your road rage.

By the numbers: Richmond's metro area grew 2.5% between July 2020 and July 2023, with more than 33,000 new people calling the River City region home.

  • That's a greater change than major metro areas like Denver (1.2%) Miami (0.81%) and San Francisco (-3.7%) and the 1% population increase nationwide.
  • And most importantly, Arlington (0.99%) and D.C. (0.71%).

The big picture: It's a continuation of a trend that's seen Richmond become the fastest growing region in the state, in part due remote-working transplants from Northern Virginia and the D.C. area.

Change in population, 2020 to 2023
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, but: Even though we're ranked 43rd of 132 metro areas in the U.S. with more than 500,000 people, most of the South has the metro area's growth rate beat.

  • Among them: Nashville (4%), Charlotte (5%) and Austin (7.5%).

Meanwhile, Richmond's population only jumped 1% while Goochland (9.4%), Chesterfield (5.1%) and Hanover (3.6%) all saw greater increases, per census figures — which means the growth is largely coming from the suburbs.

  • Henrico lost a small percentage (-0.04%) which comes out to 145 fewer people as did Petersburg (-0.26%).
  • New Kent County had the greatest growth in Virginia from 2020 to 2023 at 13%, which translates to about 3,000 more people for a total of 26,134.

Zoom out: Between July 2020 and July 2023, the Virginia localities seeing the steepest drops in population were Buchanan County (-5.7%), Norton City (-5%), Manassas Park City (-4.7%) and Emporia (-4.3%). All have fewer than 20,000 residents.

  • They lost less than 2,400 people combined.

How it works: The data is part of the most recent release of the annual Population Estimates Program, which tracks population numbers between censuses.

  • It uses administrative records and other sources to calculate annual changes in population and housing.

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