Whether you are a Virginia resident or not, you may be familiar with this famous travel slogan: “Virginia is for Lovers.” This iconic tourism campaign slogan, adopted in 1969 by the Virginia State Travel Service, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, which prompted me to take a look at trends in the Tourism and Hospitality employment in Virginia.

Jobs in the Tourism and Hospitality sector are primarily from three segments: Accommodation; Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; and Food Service, and Drinking Places. In Virginia, the number of jobs in these segments has increased by 36 percent in the last twenty years, from nearly 295,000 in 1999 to 402,000 in 2018.


Source: U.S Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, LEHD; NAICS Association

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The traditional higher-education system works for many, but not everyone desires or can afford a college degree. About one in three US adults age 18 and older hold a high school degree as their highest level of education. While well-paying jobs for workers with a high school diploma alone still exist, they have rapidly declined. By 2020 it is expected that almost two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary training or education.

Is there a solution to this dilemma? Shall we begin to rethink the traditional educational model by focusing in between the two extremes of either “no college” or a full four-year degree? It would be sensible to increase attention towards “Middle-skill” pathways, which can provide gainful employment and encourage further education and degree completion.

MS Picture 1
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Having a crystal ball that could foresee the future would be ideal, but in reality we can only rely on our ability to project Virginia’s population based on past trends. Population projections provide a lens to look into the future to anticipate what the decades ahead may hold. While projections are inherently uncertain, as the future is largely unknown, accuracy at larger geographic levels—and for the near future—can be highly valuable and useful. They provide us with a baseline for planning, and guide the needs and priorities for decision-making across the Commonwealth.

The Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia recently released the updated 2019 population projections for all counties, cities, and large towns across Virginia. These updated projections show that while Virginia continues to grow in population size, the pace of growth may be a little slower than what was earlier projected, with a 2020 population of 8.65 million.  The 13% statewide growth rate of the last decade (2000-2010) has decelerated to 8% for the current decade and is anticipated to hold steady through 2020-2030 assuming that current trends will continue, specifically lower births, higher deaths (result of aging), and fewer people moving into the state.

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Looking further than educational attainment

When viewing regional profiles, it is typical to see statistics for educational attainment – the highest level of education obtained by a person currently living in an area – as the predominant metric for talent. This is commonly depicted as the percent of the population with a college degree (bachelor’s degree or higher). Talent is key to a region’s economic wellbeing and development but unfortunately, it is often said that talented youth is among the largest exports in many areas of rural Virginia. This trend is not unique to Virginia, but is omnipresent across all rural areas in the U.S.

However, talent can also be measured by an area’s capacity to build its workforce through degree and certificate completions. Looking closely at the number and type of degree and certification completions in conjunction with the workforce needs of the area can help regions plan more carefully to ensure their residents have the right skills to meet the area’s workforce needs rather than relying on outside talent (this is particularly important as migration is declining).

Figure1: Educational Attainment in Virginia

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

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Over the past three decades, the level of educational attainment has increased in the U.S. labor force. Between 1992 and 2016, the share of the people with a bachelor’s degree has increased from 18 percent to 25 percent, and those with an advanced degree-including master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees-has increased from 9 to 14 percent. In 2016, two-thirds of the labor force had at least some college experience. Along with the growth in higher educational attainment, the number of occupations requiring college degrees also surged. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the 30 fastest-growing occupations, 18 of those require more than a high school diploma.


Percentage of Labor Workforce by Educational Attainment, 25 years and over, 1992-2016 Annual Averages

Cap 1Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Economic divergence between America’s urban and rural areas has been one of the most frequently discussed trends during the past decade. Dimensions of this divergence include growth (or loss) in population, jobs, and household income. Population estimates released by the Weldon Cooper Center earlier this year showed that 94 percent of growth in Virginia since 2010 was concentrated in its three largest metro areas: Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Richmond, while the population living outside metro areas declined by 3 percent during the period. Similarly, Census data shows that the number of jobs in Virginia’s metro areas has risen by 6 percent since 2011, while in non-metro areas, the number of jobs declined by 7 percent.

Though both population and jobs data confirm a divergence between the economies of urban and rural Virginia, the data does not indicate a growing socioeconomic gap. Household income data provides a better picture of Virginians’ material well-being and, according to Census data, shows an opposite trend. While the median household income in Virginia’s non-metro areas is lower than in metro areas, it has risen by 12 percent since 2010, compared to just 5 percent in Virginia’s metro areas. Similarly, poverty rates outside Virginia’s metro areas have fallen more than in Virginia’s metro areas since 2010 and are now lower than before the recession.Median Household Income 2010 to 2017

Source: Census American Community One Year Survey, 2010 to 2017. 

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Readers of our web series will be familiar with past posts describing population change in Virginia and the factors that drive this change (mortality, fertility, and migration). Although we frequently examine and write about each these components of population change individually, they are intricately intertwined, often in predictable ways. Demographers have observed, for example, that many countries followed a similar pattern of population change following the Industrial Revolution, and they have developed a theory of demographic transition to describe the nature of this pattern. While initially focused on explaining what happens to a population when it switches from having high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates, the theory has expanded to encompass a broader range of interrelated transitions.

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Crime data are dynamic across space and time, with offenses occurring, incidents being reported, arrests being made, or property being recovered. The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting1 (UCR) program tracks long-term trends and provides snapshots-in-time of criminal incidents across the country. In 2017, an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes (offenses that involve force or threat of force including murder/non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and 7,694,086 property crimes (which cover theft-type offenses like taking of property or money including burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) occurred nationwide. The FBI Crime Clock represents the annual ratio of crime across the country to fixed time intervals, and provides a simplified view of how often violent and property crime offenses took place in 2017. Over the ten-year period preceding 2017, the number of property crimes in the U.S. has consistently declined, while the number of violent crimes has fluctuated. Read Full Article →

Perhaps no event in Virginia’s history had more of an impact on its population than the four years of war between 1861 and 1865. The war resulted in an unknown number of deaths, freedom from slavery for close to a third of its population, and the secession of West Virginia. Though historians have attempted to calculate the number of military deaths during the war for over a century, only in recent years, with the digitization of historic census data, have historians and demographers been able to analyze the larger impact that the Civil War had on the population beyond military death records.

The methodology used to measure the demographic impact of the Civil War by utilizing digitized historic census data is reasonably similar to the methodology used by the Weldon Cooper Center to project Virginia’s future population in 2020 or 2030 in that both methods analyze how age cohorts change between decennial censuses. Applying this demographic technique to 1850, 1860 and 1870, we are able to use census data to produce an estimate of the impact that the Civil War had on the populations in each of the counties in Virginia.

The results and analysis can be seen below. Click here for a full screen view.

Despite the importance of the decennial census, its scope, purpose, and constitutional foundation are not widely understood.  Recently, the Census Bureau conducted the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS), which found that two-thirds of the U.S. population have only a cursory knowledge of the census. This unfamiliarity with how the census works is most prevalent in less educated individuals, but is about the same across racial groups. Hispanic, white, and black individuals are more or less just as likely to be unfamiliar with the particulars of the census. Misconceptions about the census may be benign in some cases but in others, it may be problematic as misinformation and concerns about data confidentiality could discourage people from responding.

Source: 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Survey

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