City growth continues

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Suffolk’s population continues to grow and now is approaching 90,000, according to data released Tuesday by the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Demographics Research Group.

The city’s estimated population grew by 5.9 percent between the 2010 census and 2014, according to the center, which annually estimates population in Virginia as of July 1 of each year. It was the 12th-fastest growing city in the state for the time period and now boasts an estimated 89,586 residents.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Tuesday. “Suffolk is growing, and everywhere I go, people are telling me they’re looking at Suffolk as a place they want to live, retire, raise their kids.”

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The 2010 census, released in 2011, declared the city’s population as 84,585, up from 63,677 in 2000. The astronomical growth rate of 32.8 percent outpaced most other localities in the state.

Since then, the Weldon Cooper Center’s yearly estimates have shown modest growth for Suffolk, with the city adding 5,000 people in that time frame.

“I just think we’re looking really attractive to people, and we’re getting people to come our way,” Johnson added. “We just need to keep doing it right.”

The estimates are important, because they are used in funding formulations based on per capita allocations, as well as in planning, budgeting, applying for grants and performing other official functions.

The estimates are produced using housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and licensed drivers.

Fredericksburg was the fastest-growing city in the state, at 16.2 percent since the 2010 census. However, that represented an increase of only about 4,000 people, since it was only about 24,000 to start with.

Rounding out the top 12 fastest-growing cities, in order, were Alexandria, Manassas, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas Park, Harrisonburg, Williamsburg, Radford, Chesapeake and then Suffolk.

There are 38 cities in Virginia, putting Suffolk in the top third. Among Virginia’s 132 total cities and counties, Suffolk ranked 19th, putting it in the top 15 percent for growth.

Chesapeake was the only Hampton Roads city to outpace Suffolk’s growth, and that was only by about one-tenth of 1 percent.

The estimated population for the state now stands about 8.3 million.