Virginia’s population rose 2.3 percent in the past two years

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Virginia’s population growth outpaced the nation in the past two years, according to annual population estimates by demographers at the University of Virginia.

Virginia’s population grew by 2.3 percent, to nearly 8.2 million residents, between the 2010 Census and July 1, 2012, according to U.Va.’s s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Virginia had the 13th-highest growth rate among the 50 states and ranked the sixth in for the largest numerical population gain.

The largest gains in the commonwealth were concentrated in the urban centers of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

“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,” demographer Rebecca Tippett said in a statement.

Tippett noted that from 2000 to 2010, Virginia’s counties grew much faster than its cities. The latest estimates show that has changed.

“For the past two years, the average population growth in Virginia’s independent cities has matched the county growth rate, with many independent cities among the fastest-growing localities,” she said.

Covington, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Charlottesville and Staunton were among the cities growing at a rate faster than the state since 2010.

Because of aging populations and lower birth rates, 64 Virginia localities saw more deaths than births from 2010 to 2012. Most localities compensated for this deficit with the migration of new residents. Nonetheless, 26 localities in Virginia had a net overall loss in population between 2010 and 2012. The largest population losses were in counties in Southwest Virginia and Southern Virginia.

The Cooper Center’s estimates are based on changes since 2010 in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s licenses. They are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, planning and budgeting.

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