Virginia Population Projections

Virginia Population Projections

The Virginia Employment Commission, responsible for periodic development of official population projections for Virginia and its localities, contracted with the Demographics Research Group to produce in 2012 detailed population projections for 2020, 2030, and 2040 for Virginia, its 134 localities and 22 Planning District Commissions (PDCs), as well as total population projections for large towns (population 5,000 or more in the 2010 census). Those projections are available on this page.

As a matter of professional interest, the Demographics Research Group also produced National Population Projections.

A Note about Our Projections

In general, population projections are based on observed trends in the population (up to the time the projections are developed) as well as reasonable assumptions about the future. The projections developed by the Demographics Research Group in 2012 used the 2010 census as the benchmark. As such, these projections reflect neither population trends since 2010 nor the impact such trends may have on the future population. In addition, while the Demographics Research Group is responsible for the official annual state population estimates, updating of the official state projections is the purview of the Virginia Employment Commission. Consequently, no current population estimates have been used to update the 2012 projections, making it possible for some of the official state population projections (from 2012) to be at odds with current official state population estimates.

Projections by Locality, PDC, and Towns

The following Excel files contain aggregate population data for each locality, PDC, and large town. You may also download the detailed projections data, as well as shapefiles of aggregate projections for localities and PDCs in this one-click download of all files.

Locality

Total Population: excel | pdf
Age and Sex | Race | Ethnicity

PDC

Total Population
Age and Sex | Race | Ethnicity

Large Towns (population 5,000+ in 2010 Census)

Total Population

Projected Total Population

2020 | 2030 | 2040

State-wide Projections vs. Local Scenario Projections

Both types of projections are predictions about the FUTURE (the unknown), but they differ in nature and purpose.

State-wide projections provide one plausible future outcome by looking at the observed past and present trends, and assuming such trends and relationships continue. When done state-wide, projections use a uniform process with the same sources of input data for each locality.

Local scenario projections also make assumptions about future conditions, including observations of past trends. Local scenario projections, however, typically suggest that past trends may change in the future as the result of local planning and policy priorities; certain environmental or land use constraints; and other factors unique to the locality. These projections provide plausible future outcomes of various "if-then" scenarios and may use data only available in that locality.

Both types of projections are valid and useful. An analogy may help to illustrate. Individuals make retirement and financial plans, partly based on their projected longevity. Life expectancies, like state-wide projections, are largely based on the observed past, including family history and individual health conditions. They are, by no means, destiny, but rather one of many possibilities. Future conditions and events may change projected life expectancies. Medical advancement may prolong the lifespan; a fatal accident could suddenly end a life. In addition, each individual may actively "plan" for desired future health and longevity, and engage in activities to bring it about, such as quitting smoking and exercising. In this way, life expectancy calculations – like population projections – can be changed based on different scenarios and as a result of external events (economic conditions) or community effort (aggressive growth planning).

Keep in mind that the future, especially the distant future, is largely unknown and unpredictable. Projections of all types are only as valid as their underlying assumptions. Empirical studies show the average error for 30-year projections at the county level is 36%. Nonetheless, both state-wide projections and local scenario projections provide a platform for community and state planning and engagement.

Projected Population Trends for Virginia

For questions or comments regarding Virginia population projections, contact Qian Cai, Director of Demographics Research Group, Weldon Cooper Center: qian.cai@virginia.edu | 434.982.5581