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Ranks down in area

Thursday, January 30, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

About a fourth of Virginia’s localities experienced a decline in population from 2010 to 2013, including Henry County, down 1.1 percent, and Martinsville, down 0.8 percent, according to a new population report.

The good news locally is that Henry County and Martinsville’s populations declined at much slower rates from 2010-13 than from 2000 to 2010, which may indicate a stabilizing of population.

The average annual rate of population decline in Henry County was 0.7 percent from 2000-10 and 0.3 percent on average annually from 2010-2013, said Qian Cai, director of the Demographics Research Group at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, in a phone interview. The most recent official state population estimates developed by demographers from the Cooper Center were released this week.

Henry County’s population fell by 3,779 people, to 54,151, between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, and dropped by 591 people (1.1 percent), to 53,560, as of July 1, 2013, the date of the Cooper Center’s most recent estimate, according to Cooper Center data.

The average annual rate of population decline in Martinsville was 1.1 percent from 2000-10 and 0.3 percent on average annually from 2010-2013, Cai said.

Martinsville’s population declined by 1,595, to 13,821, between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, and then fell by 115 people, to 13,706, as of the July 1, 2013 estimate, according to Cooper Center data.

Changes in population are figured by looking at numbers of births versus deaths and numbers of people moving into a locality versus numbers moving out, Cai said.

Henry County had 450 more deaths than births and 141 more people moving out than moving in, for a total population decline of 591 between 2010 and 2013, Cai said.

Martinsville had 192 more deaths than births, and 77 more people moving in than moving out, for a total population decline of 115 between 2010 and 2013, Cai said.

Generally over time, young people in rural areas tend to move to urban areas, where they have their children, and older people in rural areas tend to stay there, leading to an aging of the population, Cai said.

“Due to population aging and lower birth rates, almost half (66) of Virginia’s localities experienced natural decrease (more deaths than births) between 2010 and 2013,” Cai said in a news release. “While many localities gained sufficient population through migration to compensate for these losses, 33 localities in Virginia had a net overall loss in population.”

Most localities that lost population or experienced natural decrease were outside of the so-called “urban crescent,” which stretches from Hampton Roads to Richmond and up the Interstate 95 corridor to Northern Virginia, the release stated. It added that in Southwest Virginia, all seven coal-producing counties declined in population between 2012 and 2013.

Deputy Henry County Administrator Dale Wagoner said a 1-percent decrease in Henry County’s population from 2010 to 2013 is small, and it shows the population decline is slowing over time.

The area lost a lot of jobs in the 1990s and early 2000s and some people moved away to find work, he said. However, some improvements in job creation have been made in recent years, and hopefully fewer people are moving away, he said. He pointed out that more people come here to work each day than leave the area to work, but that’s different than population, he said.

Wagoner also referred to a part of the population report that says most localities that lost population or experienced natural decrease were located outside of the so-called “urban crescent,” which stretches from Hampton Roads to Richmond and up the Interstate 95 corridor to Northern Virginia. He added, “Southern and southwest Virginia have experienced declines (in population) for some time.”

Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said if the 0.8 percent decline in the city’s population from 2010 to 2013 is accurate, it could indicate a stabilizing or flattening in the city’s population decline. He believes a larger number of people moved out of the area due to immediate loss of jobs, but it’s been a number of years since most of the job losses occurred, he said.

Cai said Martinsville had “a very large decrease” in population from 2000-2010 when there were a number of factory closings, but from 2010-13 the population has not declined much further and seems to have stabilized.

From 2010-13, Patrick County’s population grew from 18,490 to 18,737, an increase of 247 people, or 1.3 percent, according to Cooper Center data. That reversed the population trend during the previous decade.

Patrick County’s average annual population decline was 0.5 percent from 2000-10, Cai said. However, from 2010-13, Patrick County’s population increased at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent, Cai said.

From 2010-13, there were 271 more deaths than births in Patrick County but 518 more people moved into the county than moved out, for a total population gain of 247, Cai said.

Virginia’s population grew by 3.2 percent, or 259,381, from 2010 to 2013, increasing to 8,260,405, according to Cooper Center data.

Within Virginia, the large population gains were more than ever concentrated in urban localities, particularly in Northern Virginia, according to a Cooper Center news release.

Virginia’s population grew between 2012 and 2013 by less than 1 percent, or 74,531 people. While growth last year was the slowest in Virginia since before the recession, the commonwealth still grew faster than the nation, which grew by 0.7 percent, the release stated. Compared with other states, Virginia posted the 14th-highest growth rate and the seventh-largest numerical population gain, the news release stated.

In between census years, the Demographics Research Group at the Cooper Center produces the official population estimates for Virginia’s counties and independent cities, according to the center’s website. It adds the Census Bureau uses a different methodology than the Cooper Center to produce population estimates.

 

 
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