For decades, Virginia’s public school enrollment has grown steadily along with Virginia’s population, but the results from this year’s September student count show that in 2018, Virginia’s enrollment fell by a little over 2,000 students—the first decline in enrollment since 1984. While this year’s dip in student enrollment is relatively small compared to Virginia’s total public school enrollment (over one million students), the decline in enrollment is one of the first signs that Virginia’s aging population is beginning to impact the commonwealth.

1900 to 2018 Virginia K-12 Enrollment

Source: Virginia Department of Education Fall Count

Even though it has been decades since Virginia’s student enrollment last declined, this year’s lower enrollment was not entirely unexpected. The number of births in Virginia, and nationally, has continued to fall since the recession, and as children born after 2007 began enrolling in school, Virginia’s entering kindergarten class sizes also started to shrink. Still, the smaller student cohorts were not expected to cause Virginia’s total student enrollment to decrease until sometime during the 2020s. It appears that this early decline in enrollment is primarily due to the rise in the out-migration of families during the last few years in Northern Virginia.

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Photo by Lawrence Jackson on Encyclopedia Britannica

Last year, I examined how national population growth and the cap on the size of the U.S. House of Representatives has contributed to the formation of extremely large House districts. The graph below shows how the gap between population growth and House size has widened over time. Until 1910, the size of the House expanded in response to population growth, but since 1910, the number of U.S. House seats has been frozen at 435 despite the fact that the U.S. population has more than tripled during that time.

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The steady decline in Virginia’s unemployment rate, since its 2010 peak, has been accompanied by a fall in the labor force participation rate over the last decade—from 68.5% in 2008 to 65.7% in 2017. A multitude of factors contribute to these rates, but understanding the demographic profile and socioeconomic makeup of the working age population who are neither working nor looking for work may offer some insights.

Young people are expected to follow the traditional path of acquiring an education and joining the labor market, but circumstances may interrupt or prevent this smooth trajectory. Some young people drop out of school, others may finish school but not work. Some may seek but be unable to find a job, while many may just get disillusioned and stop looking for employment altogether. This increases their susceptibility to negative long-term consequences such as lower incomes and a chronic inability to find and keep steady jobs.

DisconnectedYouth

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Employment statistics, such as the rates of unemployment and labor-force participation, are good indicators of workforce engagement, but they obscure the complex and diverse challenges faced by the individuals who may be without a job. The unemployment rate of Virginians age 16 and older in 2016 was 5.0%. A much larger percentage (34.2%) did not participate in the labor force at all—that is, they did not have jobs and also were not actively seeking employment. 

Of the 8.3 million Virginians, 1.6 million are currently not working. Individuals among those not working may not be equally interested in working, in need of work, or even be able to work (retired, studying, raising children, etc.). For clarity, then, we define those who are out-of-work by combining the unemployed (who are actively seeking employment) with those who have either suspended their active search for employment or have never considered participating in the labor force (we call this group not-in-the-labor-force).

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After a lengthy and high-profile crusade, Amazon has chosen to split its second headquarters (HQ2) between the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York City and Crystal City (rebranded as “National Landing”) in Arlington, Virginia. The Seattle-based Amazon could get more than $2 billion in tax breaks and other incentives as part of the deal to open up two new offices with more than 25,000 new jobs at each location. As one of the largest economic development investments in U.S. history, this is a spectacular deal for Virginia—promising $2.5 billion in capital investments and $3.2 billion in net tax revenue over 20 years, plus thousands of jobs with an average pay of $150,000. However, many are predicting an outsized effect (both positive and negative) on regional economics, housing markets, and infrastructure.  There are multiple reasons why Amazon’s impact on the Commonwealth and the Washington region may not be as extravagant as many are prognosticating.

Amazon Image 1

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1. Women outnumber men in the oldest age groups.

We often instinctively assume that males and females each constitute half of any given population, but the reality is that the ratio of the sexes varies by age throughout the life course. In the vast majority of societies, more boys are born than girls, females live longer than males, and the ratio of men to women declines with increasing age. In Virginia in 2017, for example, as demonstrated in the graph below, males outnumbered females in all age groups through the mid-thirties; but from the mid-thirties on, females outnumbered males, especially in the 85-and-older age group.

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Source: Author’s calculations using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2017 Estimates of Virginia’s Resident Population by Age Group and Sex 

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As the economy has strengthened in recent years, home prices have risen in much of the U.S., with the median home sale price recently passing its pre-recession peak. Virginians who rent are also spending more of their income on housing than during the 2000s housing bubble. Though household incomes in Virginia have been increasing since the end of the recession and currently are at an all-time high, the median rent in Virginia has risen three times as quickly as income over the past ten years. Among Virginian’s who are in the second from the lowest income quartile (households earning between 35 and 75 thousand dollars), the share spending more than the HUD recommended limit of 30 percent of their income on rent has continued to climb since the recession, reaching 41 percent last year, nearly double prerecession levels. Likely due to the high cost of housing and rent, the share of young adults between ages 18 and 34 who live with their parents or other relatives has also continued to rise since the recession, passing 45 percent last year.  Virginia Renters Spending More Than 30 Percent of Income on Housing

Source: 2005 and 2017 Census Bureau American Community Survey

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Households can be one of two things: owned or rented. The homeownership rate equals the share of households that are owned. Therefore, a rise in the homeownership rate indicates a rise in the number of households electing to own their home rather than rent in a given area. Essentially, homeownership can provide an idea of where householders have the best chances of buying a home if they so desire.

Virginia is just now seeing the first significant increase in homeownership since before the housing crisis. According to annual data from the American Community Survey, two-thirds of occupied homes in Virginia were owned in 2017 – a 1.3 percent increase over 2016. Homeownership is increasing at an even greater rate among members of Virginia’s younger generation, who are catching up following the negative impact of the recession. Young adults, defined here as those age 15 to 34, had a homeownership rate increase of 1.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, reaching 34.8 percent. The homeownership rate among those other than young adults (greater than 34 years old) was 73.7 percent – an increase of 1.0 percent.

How does young Virginian homeownership vary across the state? What underlying causes are driving changes in the homeownership rate? What does this information indicate and imply for Virginia counties and cities? This commentary aims to explore the above questions.

 

Figure 1: Change in Homeownership Rate from the Previous Year in Virginia, 2006-2017

Figure 1

Source: Census Bureau American Community Survey, 1-year estimates

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After watching the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” I wondered if it is accurate to label Asians in the United States and, specifically in Virginia, as rich. After delving into American Community Census data, I discovered that, in fact, Asians have been the wealthiest group in the United States for over three decades, and the wealthiest in Virginia as well.

Based on the 2017 American Community Survey data, the median household income for Asian in the U.S. was $83,456, the highest among all races and ethnicities.

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

 

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Perhaps the most surprising demographic trend over the past decade in Virginia—and much of the U.S.—has been the resurgence of growth in cities after nearly half a century of population decline or stagnation. In the early 2000s, after the population of Virginia’s independent cities hit their lowest point since the 1950 census, many of Virginia’s cities began growing again. Local zoning reforms, changing property development models, and a renewed public interest in urban centers all helped fuel the recent growth. Yet the recent population growth trend in Virginia’s cities may be more fragile than it appears; Virginia’s cities experienced their most rapid growth during the last recession when the economy and strict mortgage regulations made it difficult to buy a home. Now that the economy and housing markets are the strongest they have been in over a decade, migration out of many of Virginia’s cities is rising.City Population 1960 to 2017

Source: Weldon Cooper Center Population Estimates and the Decennial Census. The consolidated city-counties are not included in the population total. Read Full Article →