Experts agree: Suffolk is growing

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Exciting developments and new businesses have been driving more and more people to live in Suffolk in recent years, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

The city is estimated to have grown by 934 residents in a year’s time — from 89,294 in 2016 to 90,237 residents in 2017 — according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This represents a 6.7-percent increase from the 84,570 residents recorded in 2010. Suffolk is the second-fastest growing city in South Hampton Roads since 2010, behind Chesapeake, according to the estimates.

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The U.S. Census Bureau has recorded a steady population increase for the city every year since 2012, according to an email from Public Affairs Specialist Amy Newcomb.

This was also the first time the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that Suffolk’s population crossed the 90,000 threshold. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, however, estimated that Suffolk already crossed that mark in 2015.

According to the Weldon Cooper Center, Suffolk’s population in 2017 was 92,533. Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Thursday that the Weldon Cooper Center is closer to city government calculations.

“No matter who’s doing the counting, we’re growing,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “We’re seeing growth in our city, and it’s all really good news.”

Johnson attributes this growth to the new opportunities being developed in the city. The 55-acre “Point at Harbour View” site, for example, will bring new residential and commercial developments, and the Hub 757 event venue is drawing more traffic to the same part of North Suffolk. More apartments are being built throughout Suffolk to accommodate growth.

The Weldon Cooper Center is projecting the city’s population to swell to 104,400 in 2025, 120,487 in 2035 and 135,619 in 2045.

“The opportunities in our city are just growing every day,” Johnson said. “Those of us that have lived here for a long time always knew that Suffolk had a lot to offer, and now we’re getting new opportunities to become an even more fun and exciting place to be.”

Virginia’s population increased by nearly 60,000 to 8,470,020 residents in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, but only four of the seven cities in Hampton Roads followed suit.

Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News each lost residents between the 2016 and 2017 estimates. Chesapeake, meanwhile, saw the greatest growth with 8.1 percent more residents. It is ranked as the third-largest city in the Hampton Roads estimates, behind Virginia Beach (450,435) and Norfolk (244,703).

Since 2010, Suffolk’s percentage of individuals under the age of 18 dropped by 1.4 percent, while the percentage of those ages 65 and older rose by 2.1 percent. The median age for residents was 37.8 in 2016.

This follows the U.S. Census Bureau’s national projection that older adults will outpace children in population size in 2035.

“Higher fertility and more international migration have helped stave off an aging population and the country has remained younger as a result. But those trends are changing,” according to the press release. “Americans are having fewer children, and the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s has yet to be repeated. Fewer babies, coupled with longer life expectancy, equals a country that ages faster.”