As Virginia rides the wave of a booming population in Northern Virginia toward a projected ranking of 10th most populous state in the union by 2040, Central Virginia is not getting left behind.
the city of Lynchburg is projected to grow to 96,000 residents by 2040
Reporter: Margaret Carmel
Lynchburg News & Advance
July 5, 2017
According to the latest population projections released by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, the city of Lynchburg is projected to grow to 96,000 residents by 2040, up from 79,047 measured in 2014, according to citydata.com. Between 2020 and 2040, the city is expected to add 15,000 residents, which is an estimated growth of 18 percent.
Just behind Lynchburg, Bedford County is expected to grow to 91,000 residents by 2040, with a growth rate of 15 percent between 2020 and 2040. The study estimates Bedford County’s current population of 76,000 residents will grow to just shy of 80,000 by 2020.
Appomattox County is expected to reach a population just shy of 18,000 residents by 2040, which is up from the currently population of about 15,000 people. The locality is projected to hit 15,900 residents by 2020 and then grow 11 percent over the next 20 years.
Campbell County also will add about 5,000 residents between 2020 and 2040 to reach a total population of 62,000. The current population of about 54,000 residents is expected to hit 57,000 by 2020.
Shonel Sen, a research and policy analyst with the Weldon Cooper Center, said metropolitan areas of all sizes are growing across the commonwealth, while rural areas are shrinking or holding steady.
“The divide between urban and rural communities is growing,” she said. “In terms of metro areas, a lot of the growth you’re seeing is coming from areas like Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond, but all other metro areas are also a large contributor to the population growth. Even when you’re looking at Central Virginia, the urban areas will pop up more in population.”
The Weldon Cooper Center’s Demographics Research Group produces the official annual population estimates for Virginia and its localities and serves governments at the federal, state and local levels as well as private companies with statistical research.
The state budget for fiscal year 2016-18 budget allocated funds $300,000 over two years for the new round of population estimates to help the government implement policy.
Despite growth in the more rural counties of Bedford, Appomattox and Campbell, Amherst and Nelson are lagging behind.
Amherst is projected to see a 2 percent population decrease between 2020 and 2040 to about 31,000 residents by 2040. The county’s current population is 32,000 and is expected to drop to 31,700 by 2020.
Nelson is predicted to grow to 15,244 by 2040, which is only marginally higher than the 2020 estimate of 14,941. The current population is estimated to be just 100 residents lower at 14,835.
The study did not focus on the causes of population growth or decline but instead studied previous trends and data collected from the last two censuses collected in 2000 and 2010 to create a model to project the near future.
“We tried to go back and see what the locality’s population structure was in the past and how that could change in the future,” Sen said. “These findings are a template for the future, but they may vary, and we intend to change these projections as we get more input data.”
Megan Lucas, CEO of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, said the results of the population projections are encouraging for the region’s existing businesses, and future ones that could be drawn to the area.
“Ultimately it means success for our existing industries, but it also means our labor force will grow, and that is important as we try to recruit industry into the region and tell our story,” she said.
Currently Virginia is ranked 12th in the nation for population with 8.4 million residents, but the study estimates the commonwealth could surge past New Jersey and Michigan and be home to 10.5 million people by 2040. The state of California is ranked first with 39 million and Wyoming comes in last with only 585,000.
Despite the increasing population in the commonwealth, Sen said the majority of the growth is coming from older residents who are living longer and growing old in Virginia.
“Even though the commonwealth is growing, it’s growing because of older people, plus there are medical advances so you have longer life expectancy. In terms of the future growth, about more than 50 percent that you can expect to see is people who are about 65 just growing older in the same place.”
Statewide, the population of Virginia residents 65 and older is projected to jump from about 1.4 million in 2020 to more than 1.9 million by 2040.
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