Suffolk growth outpaces state

Published 8:46 pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

Suffolk again outpaced the growth rate of the state and the nation in the 15 months between the 2010 census and July 2011 estimates newly released by the University of Virginia.

The city’s population now is estimated at 85,692, a 1.3-percent change from the April 2010 count of 84,585.

Meanwhile, the state grew only 1.2 percent, and the nation’s population climbed by less than 1 percent.

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UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service provides the official population estimates for the state each year between censuses.

Compared to other states, Virginia posted the 13th-highest growth rate and the seventh-largest population gain, numerically speaking.

As expected, Virginia’s numerical growth was concentrated in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

“Nearly all of Virginia’s growth since 2010 occurred in metropolitan areas,” said demographer Rebecca Tippett, who prepared the estimates. “More and more Virginians are living in or near cities.”

However, the patterns of percent population change revealed that the fastest-growing Virginia localities were independent cities not part of the large urban centers.

Fredericksburg, for instance, was the fastest-growing locality between 2010 and 2011, with a growth rate of 4.9 percent. Norton and Buena Vista also topped the list.

“In addition, in contrast with previous trends, a number of independent cities that lost population between 2000 and 2010 showed some growth in 2011,” Tippett said.

These cities include Hampton and Portsmouth, as well as Martinsville, Danville, Covington, Staunton and Petersburg.

The estimates are based on changes in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s licenses.