The University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released its official Virginia Population Estimates on January 30, 2023. The estimates provide an accurate approximation of county and independent city populations on July 1, 2022. State and local government agencies use this data for funding allocations, planning, and budgeting purposes.
The CSPDC’s 2022 population estimate is 308,788, roughly 0.5% higher than the 2020 Census estimate, or 1,577 residents. Since the 2020 Census, the cities of Harrisonburg and Waynesboro have experienced the greatest population growth. Estimates indicate that the population of Harrisonburg is roughly 1.6% higher, or 890 residents, while the population of Waynesboro is roughly 1.5% higher, or 341 residents. In contrast, the City of Lexington and Rockbridge County experienced a slight decline in population. Estimates indicate that the population of Lexington is roughly 2.9% lower, or 215 residents, while the population of Rockbridge is roughly 0.7% lower, or 152 residents. All other localities in the CSPDC region experienced slight growth over 2020 Census estimates, between 0.1% and 0.5%, ranging from an increase of 2 to 392 residents.
The Weldon Cooper Center notes that large college and university populations were often undercounted in the 2020 Census. To account for this, the Weldon Cooper Center benchmarked population estimates for localities with at least 20% college population, like the cities of Harrisonburg and Lexington, on their 2020 and 2021 estimates, instead of the 2020 Census estimates. Once the remainder of 2020 Census data is released, the Weldon Cooper Center will further examine the discrepancies in college town populations.
The 2022 Virginia Population Estimates are available of the Weldon Copper Center’s Demographic Research Group website. Yearly demographic and population data is also available on the CSPDC’s Regional Data Center.