County’s growth keeps up with neighbors’

Many of Virginia’s counties and localities experienced a population increase in 2012, including Rappahannock, whose growth kept pace with – and in some case even outgained – many of its neighboring counties.

The University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center recently released its 2012 official population estimates for Virginia and its localities and found that the population growth in Virginia was greater than that of the nation as a whole. Virginia’s population increased by 2.3 percent (to 8.2 million residents) between 2010 and the July 1, 2012 census date; during that same period, the nation’s population increased by 1.3 percent.

Rappahannock County grew by 84 people (or 1.1 percent), pushing its total number of residents to 7,457 people. That was consistent with Warren and Madison counties, which grew by 1.3 and 1.2 percent respectively, and noticeably more than Page County, which increased by less than a percentage point.

Neighboring Fauquier County grew by 1.4 percent, pushing its population above 66,000, while some of the biggest nearby growth happened in Culpeper County: its rise to 47,732 residents was a 2.2-percent increase.

Loudoun County represented the single largest nearby population increase, rising by more than 20,000 people (6.7 percent) to 333,253 residents. Though many counties in the state lost inhabitants, neither Rappahannock nor any neighboring county was among them.

“Nearly all of the commonwealth’s population growth in the past two years occurred in metropolitan areas, with more than half of the growth between 2010 and 2012 occurring in Northern Virginia,” said demographer Rebecca Tippett, who prepared the estimates.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas, Northern Virginia (or NoVa, as it’s sometimes called) grew by a full 4 percent (more than 100,000 new residents), pushing its population past the 2.7 million mark. Charlottesville experienced the third-largest increase at 2.5 percent, while nearby Winchester grew by 2.7 percent, or almost 3,000 people.

County Administrator John McCarthy said that, in Rappahannock’s case, while “the numbers are of some use in estimating rungs like school-age population and the demand for other services . . . they indicate such limited change that we don’t really use them.”