Reflecting its lagging economic growth in the 2010s, Virginia experienced an unfamiliar sensation — more native-born Americans moving out than moving in. Or, as demographers put it, negative net domestic migration. Thanks to natural population increase and strong international immigration, Virginia’s population continued growing through the decade. But the domestic out-migration was a sign of economic fragility.
Old Dominion University’s “2019 State of the Commonwealth Report” takes a close-up look at the migratory patterns, breaking down the numbers by metropolitan area. The state’s two largest metro areas accounted for almost the entire outflow of native-born residents. Hampton Roads hemorrhaged domestic residents, losing 61,000 between 2010 and 2018., while Northern Virginia drained 44,000. Blacksburg leaked a small number, less than a thousand. Fortunately, Virginia’s other metros continued to enjoy a net gain in domestic citizens. Richmond gained 34,000.
Northern Virginia more than made up the lost for domestic-born residents through an influx of foreign-born residents: 167,000 between 2010 and 2018. Immigrants replaced the number of domestic out-migrants four times over, and accounted for three out of five of all new immigrants in the state. Hampton Roads was the second-largest recipient of foreigners, although the number was not sufficient to offset the flight of domestic residents.
Virginia’s small metros — Roanoke, Charlottesville, Winchester, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, and Staunton — all experienced populations gains from both domestic and international in-migration.
Unfortunately for armchair demographers, the 2019 State of the Commonwealth Report did not break out rural (non-metropolitan Virginia). However, according to my trusty calculator, non-metropolitan Virginia experienced the following:
Natural population growth: 26,155
Net domestic migration: -13,597
Net international migration: 4,061
The fastest-growing metros between 2010 and 2018 were:
Northern Virginia — 12.0%
Winchester — 8.7%
Richmond — 8.0%
Harrisonburg — 7.9%
Charlottesville — 7.4%
Virginia — 6.2%
United States — 5.8%
Lynchburg — 4.1%
Staunton — 4.0%
Blacksburg — 3.1%
Hampton Roads — 2.6%
Roanoke — 1.8%
James Bacon is the publisher of baconsrebellion.com