Martinsville, Danville Continue Population Decline

Two southside region cities, Martinsville and Danville, have experienced almost the largest population losses in Virginia since 2000 according to the 2010 census. Martinsville's population decreased 10.3% and Danville 11.1%. Only Accomack county outpaced Danville's rate of decrease by losing 13.4% of its population.

The decreases in population can largely be attributed to economic factors. Young families are drawn away from the area by greater job availability elsewhere, decreasing the natural birth rate. Employment also impacts the likelihood of in-migration, the second source of population growth. Job seekers are discouraged by the high unemployment rates of Martinsville and Danville and find the metropolitan areas within Virginia's urban crescent more appealing.

Additionally, according to a report by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA, "one in every three new Virginians in the past decade was hispanic," but this demographic has largely overlooked southside Virginia in favor of northern Virginia and other urban areas. Without attracting quickly growing portions of the Virginia population like hispanics, the cities' growth will continue to be non existent.

The political implications are obvious. The loss of population in southside and southwest Virginia compounds the disproportionate populations of northern Virginia and the rest of the Commonwealth. Loudoun County and Prince William County grew 84.1% and 43.2% respectively since 2000. Pairing these figures with the waning populations of localities such as Martinsivlle and Danville, it is apparent that in the coming decades southside's representation in the General Assembly will be smaller in proportion to northern Virginia and the urban crescent.

VAYD Annual Convention

March 17-19, 2017
Harrisonburg, VA

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