This week, the Demographics Research Group published a new Census Brief covering recent trends in Virginia’s public school enrollment. Despite the weak economy, most of Virginia’s localities have continued to grow in population during the past five years. Throughout the recession and the subsequent recovery, Virginia has consistently had more people moving in than out. Yet in many of Virginia’s localities the number of children enrolled in their schools is beginning to decline while their population continues to grow. The divergence in population and school enrollment trends is likely to be a challenge for many local governments going forward.

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Virginia is home to nearly 720,000 veterans. In observance of National Veterans Day (11 November), we developed a brief demographic profile of veterans in the Commonwealth.

Who are they?

About a third of veterans are between the ages of 35 – 55. While nationally only 8 percent of veterans are women, in Virginia the share is higher at 12 percent.

Age&Gender of Veterans

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1In recent decades, the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the United States has easily been the most discussed population trend. Fueled by immigration and births, the U.S. Hispanic population grew from 4 percent of the population in 1970 to 16 percent—or over 50 million—by 2010. The increase in the U.S. Hispanic population has attracted considerable interest from different sources, including advertisers looking for new markets to political parties who believe the Hispanic vote is now essential to win elections.

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Despite a rise in high school graduation rates, college enrollment is dropping from its 2011 peak, leaving many small colleges scrambling.  Here in Virginia, enrollment has largely been steady, but two small colleges closed in the last two years, and others have sounded the alarm on declining enrollment or missed targeted growth.  Every struggling college certainly has its own history and unique problems.  But larger trends always pick off stragglers.  In Warren Buffet’s words, “when the tide goes out, you find out who’s been swimming naked.”  And the tide appears to be going out. 

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An article at the Urbanophile gives us a helpful graphic explaining the old and new “Donut” conceptions of the city.  In the “Old Donut,” we have an impoverished central city with a ring of thriving suburbs around it.

OldDonutAn example of that model appears in this graph, which shows the percentage of adults over 25 with college degrees in the Charlotte, NC metro area in 1990.  The x-axis is distance from the center of downtown.

charlotte1990

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If you grew up in one of Northern Virginia's Historical PopulationVirginia’s suburban counties, such as Prince William, or in any of Virginia’s metro areas, you likely grew up with the impression that growth is as certain as the seasons. For decades, many counties in Virginia have grown relentlessly, constructing thousands of homes each year to house new residents. With more residents come more schools, roads, offices and shops. Except for the hard times around the Civil War, Virginia’s population as a whole has grown continuously since it was a colony.

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There is a lot of buzz amongst urbanists and demographers about millennials’ preference for urban areas.  We’ve found evidence to support this narrative in some areas of Virginia, including indications that they may be staying even after having kids.

But there’s also a lot of talk about baby boomers retiring and moving into cities.  Maybe this is happening in other parts of the U.S., but it’s certainly not the case in Virginia. 
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Local governments across the country have come under increasing fiscal strain in recent years, with several being forced to declare bankruptcy.  The problems range from pension programs and decaying infrastructure to falling revenues from industrial and sales taxes as manufacturing gets offshored and shopping happens online.  In Virginia, cities are further constrained by annexation laws that prevent them from expanding with their metropolitan area and gaining revenue from greenfield development or wealthier suburbs. Read Full Article →

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In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to “give American a raise” by increasing the federal minimum wage. For the second year in a row he argued “that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty”. Even with the presidential priority of raising the Federal minimum wage, the 2014 House bill was voted down. In spite of this, many states and cities have opted to raise the basic hourly wage independent of the federal government.

Raising the minimum wage will impact employers and employees alike, and through them the larger society. While fewer than three percent of US workers* earn the minimum wage (or less), 18 percent earn less than $10.10/hour (the amount proposed by the President).  Understanding how an increased minimum wage will affect individuals first requires examining common arguments about low-wage workers.

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