Fairfax County settled into middle age during the past 10 years, becoming a stable but increasingly diverse suburb as its younger neighboring counties burgeoned, according to initial detailed numbers released last week based on the 2010 Census.
Fairfax, Virginia’s largest and wealthiest county grew by just over 110,000 people from 2000-2010, to pass 1 million people. But that represented just an 11 per cent growth rate --- below the state growth rate for the same period of 13 percent. The county grew by 14 percent during the 1990's.
“The numbers don’t show all that surprise for Fairfax,” said Steve Farnsworth, an assistant professor of communications at George Mason University, who watches Fairfax County population and politics. “It is getting more diverse in terms of the ethnic population. There has been relatively slow growth in recent years because there is so much rapid growth outside of Fairfax in Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier," he said.
Loudoun County had nearly 170,000 people in 2000, then ballooned to nearly 315,000 now as farmland became the Route 28 corridor--- Silicon Valley East. Prince William grew to nearly a 500,000 people, a 43 percent increase. Fauquier County grew by 18 percent but still has a population of only 65,000.
Fairfax grew largely because of Latino and Asian immigrants. The white not Hispanic population of the county dropped from 58 percent to 55 percent.
That is a huge change. Thirty years ago Fairfax County was literally black and white. The county was still emerging from segregated schools. Segregated restaurants. Segregated housing. The first large numbers of immigrants were the Vietnamese who arrived in the mid-70's, fleeing their war-torn nation. They were followed by the Salvadoreans, fleeing their war-torn nation.
Now Asians are the county's largest minority group at nearly 20 percent of the population, followed by Latinos at 15 percent. Blacks are less than 10 percent of folks in the county. You can speak Spanish every day and most everywhere today in Fairfax.
To the average Fairfax Couty resident all this diversity means you can now literally eat around the world a few blocks from your house.
“The education of the students is greatly enhanced by the diversity of the population," Farnsworth said. "You are offered a wide range of insights because of the people you meet in your neighborhood, at your coffee shop, in the office."
What does all this mean for the future? First the county will probably become a majority-minority county in about 10 years, Farnsworth predicted. Also, Fairfax is graying. It has a growing senior population and they are going to want more services.
The Fairfax County school system already has a majority of minority students.
The Washington Post reported Thursday morning, that Montgomery County, Md is now a majority-minority county.
What are the implications of the graying of Fairfax?
“As the portion of seniors increase that will increase pressure for more services that are of importance to older residents," Farnsworth said. "There will be more demands for senior enrichment programs, mass transit, senior programs. In eastern Fairfax inside the Beltway you are seeing more older communities and as time goes on more and more of Fairfax will resemble the demographics of these older suburbs. That will create a lot of pressure on government to fund those services."
Jurisdiction April 1, 2000
April 1, 2010
Population Growth Natural Increase Net Migration Population Growth Births minus Deaths
Virginia 7,079,030 8,001,024 921,994 460,494 461,500 13.0% 6.5% 6.5%
969,749 1,081,726 111,977 106,670 5,308 11.5% 11.0% 0.5%
Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Demographics & Workforce Group, www.coopercenter.org/demographics Data Source: United States Census Bureau, Census 2010
Race/Ethnic Origin 2010 2000
White 55.00% 58% Black 9.20% 9% Asian/Pacific Islander 17.50% 16% Hispanic (may be of any race) 15.60% 14% Two or more races 4.00% 3.00%
Source. U.S. Census Bureau