ELECTIONS 2020: Projecting eligible voters by state


Political punditry and polls often form the basis for predicting election results, but rarely are they consistent or comprehensive. Given the importance of state-level voting, and the central role played by the Electoral College in the democratic process, projecting the number of eligible voters in each state may add value to understanding the November 2020 election cycle. For the current analysis, eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens ages 18 and over, including those born in the U.S. as well as those born in other countries who have immigrated and become naturalized citizens.1

The sheer population size of the individual states is a good starting indicator of how large a pool of potential voters may reside in them. If the elections were held today, California would have over 25.8 million voters, while Wyoming would have fewer than 500,000 people eligible to vote. Texas, Florida, and New York would each be home to over 10 million eligible voters, closely followed by Pennsylvania and Illinois. Continue reading “ELECTIONS 2020: Projecting eligible voters by state”

Read More

Where do children in affordable housing go to school? (Part 1)

School quality is one of the most important considerations for a family when choosing where to live. However, a more critical aspect in deciding home location is affordability. More often than not, these two pieces don’t line up. If lower-income households could make housing location decisions based on school quality alone rather than affordability, they would typically choose to locate elsewhere.

Education, especially at an early age, is critical to social mobility. However, many children don’t have the opportunity to attend a high-quality school. Theoretically, subsidized affordable housing could help alleviate this mismatch and provide lower-income families the opportunity to send their children to better schools. As it is, however, most kids who grow up in subsidized housing are more likely to live near low-performing schools.

A series of two posts will narrow in on this reality Virginia. This first post will give a statewide overview at the neighborhood level of both (1) school quality as measured by the HUD school proficiency index and (2) housing cost as measured by median housing value. A second forthcoming post in this series will explore (1) where subsidized housing is located in Virginia and (2) how this relates to school quality.

Children in lower-cost housing should be able to attend good schools. By examining and highlighting the current mismatch between these two, steps can be taken to ensure that it doesn’t persist.

School Blog 1 Image

Continue reading “Where do children in affordable housing go to school? (Part 1)”

Read More

As the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse, Census race categories are struggling to keep up

In 1998, President Bill Clinton startled an audience of students by making this statement:

“In a little more than 50 years there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time.”

While few people in 1998 were aware of the Census Bureau projection cited by the president, the growing diversity of the U.S. population has received substantial attention since then.  Census projections released and widely covered by the media since the 1998 Clinton speech also predict whites will become a minority during the 2040s. Public and private sector leaders have reacted by increasingly focusing on diversity within their organizations.

Census Race Categories from PDFSource: 2017 American Community Survey, Census Bureau Race/Ethnicity Projections

Yet, what is less commonly known is that the same Census projections that predict Americans who identify as white alone will become a minority during the 2040s also predict that about 75 percent of the U.S. population is expected to mark the box next to White on their Census form, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity. That percentage is fairly close to the share of the U.S. population currently identifying as white, and is about the same share as in the first census in 1790. The fact that the same Census projection can show whites becoming a minority by 2040 and also show the percent of Americans who identify as white remaining close to levels counted in previous censuses is an indicator of how the race categories we use are struggling to keep up with our changing population.
Continue reading “As the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse, Census race categories are struggling to keep up”

Read More

Which places in Virginia are most attractive?

Moving Truck

When people hear that “Northern Virginia drives population growth in the commonwealth,” or “rural communities are losing population,” they immediately think of large numbers of people moving into Northern Virginia or many residents leaving rural counties. Is this true?

In this article, we examine county-to-county (including independent cities) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) migration data, one of the key sources of information used by the Census Bureau to estimate migration each year. We look here at the 2015-2016 data—the most recent information available to the public.

Continue reading “Which places in Virginia are most attractive?”

Read More

Virginia is for Lovers: Jobs in Tourism and Hospitality



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

Continue reading “Virginia is for Lovers: Jobs in Tourism and Hospitality”

Read More

It’s Time to Think About Middle-Skill Jobs and Education

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
Continue reading “It’s Time to Think About Middle-Skill Jobs and Education”

Read More

Population Projections show that Virginia is aging and growing more slowly


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.

Continue reading “Population Projections show that Virginia is aging and growing more slowly”

Read More

Talent in Virginia: Where is it coming from and where is it going?

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

Continue reading “Talent in Virginia: Where is it coming from and where is it going?”

Read More

A Greater Number of Jobs Require More Education, Leaving Middle-Skill Workers with Fewer Opportunities

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.

Continue reading “A Greater Number of Jobs Require More Education, Leaving Middle-Skill Workers with Fewer Opportunities”

Read More

Since 2010, household incomes have risen the most in rural Virginia

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. 

Continue reading “Since 2010, household incomes have risen the most in rural Virginia”

Read More