By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Aug. 24 — Page and Rappahannock were the only counties in the region to report a declining population over the last decade, according to the initial 2020 Census data released on Aug. 12.
Page County saw a 1.4-percent decline in its total population — from 24,042 recorded in the 2010 Census, to 23,709 reported earlier this month for the 2020 Census. The loss of 333 residents is the largest decline in the last 10 years of any locality in the northwest section of Virginia.
Rappahannock County reported a decline of only 0.3 percent, losing only 25 residents from April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2020.
Across the region, the biggest gain in population was reported in Frederick County, which grew by 16.7 percent or 13,114 residents in the last decade. Frederick saw its population grow from 78,305 in 2010, to 91,419 in 2020. Greene County was the only other county in the region to show double-digit growth with an 11.7-percent gain, as they picked up 2,149 residents to reach its current population of 20,552.
Population shifts statewide over the last decade are not too surprising as high-density areas like Northern Virginia, the suburbs of Richmond and the Tidewater area saw gains, while more rural areas like Southside and Southwest Virginia saw declines in population. Loudoun County showed the highest gain at 34.8 percent, while Buchanan County saw the biggest loss at -15.5 percent. Many counties in Southwest Virginia reported double-digit losses in population.
Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of change since 2010 and the population reported in the 2020 Census for localities across our region:
+16.7% — Frederick County — 91,419
+11.7% — Greene County — 20,552
+9.8% — Rockingham County — 83,757
+8.4% — Warren County — 40,727
+7.3% — City of Winchester — 28,120
+5.9% — City of Harrisonburg — 51,814
+5.3% — Clarke County — 14,783
+5.2% — Shenandoah County — 44,186
+4.0% — Madison County — 13,837
-0.3% — Rappahannock County — 7,348
-1.4% — Page County — 23,709
Page County reported a total of 9,510 housing units, with 8,165 (or 85.9 percent) occupied. The census data shows that 80.1 percent of Page’s population is age 18 or over. The county’s population density is 76.5 people per square mile, with 23,709 people spread across 310 square miles.
The racial breakdown of Page County’s 23,709 residents is as follows:
92.9% White — 22,037
3.8% Two or more races — 894
1.9% Black — 439
0.7% Other — 160
0.5% Asian — 120
0.2% American Indian or Alaska native — 51
0.03% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander — 8
Although considered an ethnicity and not a race, 2.1 percent of Page County’s population, or 497 residents, have a Hispanic origin.
As a whole, Virginia reported a 7.9-percent increase in its overall population — growing from just over 8 million in 2010, to more than 8.6 million by 2020.
The U.S. population grew by 7.4 percent, with the highest gains seen in the northwest and western regions of the country. Utah touted the largest increase in population of any state at 18.4 percent, while Idaho reported a 17.3-percent gain and North Dakota grew by 15.8 percent. Other states in the region that grew by double-digits include Nevada (15 percent), Colorado (14.8 percent), Washington (14.6 percent), Arizona (11.9 percent) and Oregon (10.6 percent). Texas was the only other double-digit gainer at 15.9 percent.
Only three states in the U.S. showed an overall decline in residents over the past decade. West Virginia reported the highest exodus with a 3.2-percent drop in population, while Mississippi reported a decline of 0.2 percent and Illinois fell by just 0.1 percent.
A 2020 Census data map of the United States, which can be focused down to the county and census tract levels, can be found HERE.