Charlottesville’s population has jumped 13% in the last decade, but that growth appears to be tapering off, according to estimates released Monday by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
Weldon Cooper demographers estimate that 49,181 people lived in Charlottesville, as of July 1, 2019. Meanwhile, Albemarle County’s population is approaching 110,000 people, a 10% increase from the 2010 census. Overall, the Charlottesville metropolitan area’s population has gone up by 9.6% over the last decade to 220,832.
Since 2010, Albemarle County’s population has slowly ticked up each year from 99,010 to the current estimate of 109,722.
Hamilton Lombard, a Weldon Cooper demographer who prepared the estimates, said Charlottesville had stronger growth than Albemarle County earlier in the decade.
“It had to balance out,” he said.
Weldon Cooper’s estimates serve as the state’s official figures in between the U.S. Census. The state and local governments use the estimates to plan and budget. The 2019 estimates are the last batch released before the federal government conducts its decennial count of every person in the country.
Charlottesville, Albemarle County and Louisa County were among the top 20 localities in the state that saw the most growth, percentage-wise, since 2010.
During the last decade, Virginia’s population growth slowed, and much of the growth was concentrated in the Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Richmond metropolitan areas, according to the estimates. Compared to 2010, the state’s population grew by 6.7% to 8.5 million residents.
The lower rates of growth are due to more people moving out of state than moving in, according to the center.
“The main reason Virginia is not growing as quickly as it has in recent decades is that it is no longer able to attract enough residents from other states to make up for the Virginians who are moving out of the commonwealth,” Lombard said in a news release.
In an interview, Lombard said the state’s slowing growth stood out to him and should raise questions for state and local officials.
“It’s remarkable how much less growth we’ve had,” he said.
From 2000 to 2010, the state’s population grew by 13%, according to census data.
Lombard used changes in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s licenses to calculate the populations, according to a news release.
Fifty-one of Virginia’s 95 counties have lost population since 2010, according to the release. Locally, Buckingham, Nelson and Madison counties have seen slight population decreases.
While cities such as Charlottesville have seen gains over the decade, that growth is slowing as population estimates have accelerated in some suburban counties, according to Weldon Cooper.
This is the first year since the 2010 census that population estimates have decreased compared with the previous year. Last year, the center estimated that 49,281 people were living in Charlottesville, a hundred more than the 2019 estimate.
In recent years, the population shifts started to look similar to what happened in the late 2000s, when investment in cities spurred more housing construction in surrounding counties.
“It’s a sign of a healthy economy,” Lombard said.
The estimate does include UVa students, he said, adding that the opening of the new residence hall, Bond House, prevented the city’s population from declining further.
Lombard said the center uses the annual dorm count from the beginning of the school to year and allocate students to Albemarle or Charlotteville based on their on-campus housing.