Virginia Population Projections
Under contract with the Virginia Employment Commission, the Demographics Research Group produced detailed population projections for 2020, 2030, and 2040 for Virginia, its 134 localities and 22 Planning District Commissions (PDCs) and total population projections for large towns (population 5,000 or more in the 2010 census).
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.
Large Towns (population 5,000+ in 2010 Census)
- Methodology | FAQs
- Understanding Population Projections
- Accuracy of Growth Forcasts Made 20 Years Ago Varied | MWCOG.org
- VEC website (data is also posted here)
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
firstname.lastname@example.org | 434.982.5581