- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Old-timers like to say Northern Virginia isn't Virginia — it's a different state. And the latest census figures show they're not terribly wrong — by the numbers, at least.
Slightly more than a fourth of Virginia's 7 million residents live in the nine northern counties and independent cities close to the District of Columbia, which contain a vastly more diverse population than the rest of the predominantly white state, according to Census 2000 data being released today. It describes Virginia's population, race and "relationship data."
More than two-thirds (66.8 percent) of Virginia's Asian population lives in the Northern Virginia area that includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Nearly two-thirds (63.5 percent) of the state's Hispanic population also lives in that small section of the nation's 12th-largest state.
Moreover, although 73 percent of Virginians identify themselves as white, and the state's 1,390,293 black residents constitute roughly a fifth (19.64 percent) of the overall population, Northern Virginia's 1,815,197 residents are 70 percent white, and just about a tenth (11.08 percent) of its population is black.
Demographer Carl Haub of the Population Reference says those differences are easily explained.
"The majority of Hispanics and Asians who settle in areas near the District have gone there precisely to be in an urban area. Unlike California, which offers a range of agricultural work, Washington, D.C., provides service jobs.
"Latinos who may not speak English very well and who have few occupational skills can find work in the city. Asians who migrate into the area tend to be professionals. They also see job opportunities here. The archetype is the Indian computer expert who finds work in the area's computer industry."
Mr. Haub says fewer blacks live in urban Northern Virginia because the state's black population has "for many generations worked on the state's farms. After all, the area outside of Northern Virginia is mainly rural."
There are other differences.
For instance, just less than a fourth of the state's unmarried couples live in Northern Virginia (23.1 percent). Yet more than a third (35.3 percent) of the state's same-sex-partner households have located there. In that respect, Arlington County leads the region and the state. It has the highest rate of same-sex partners 1.27 percent of the county's 86,352 households.
Then there's the age factor.
The median age of Virginia's 7,078,515 population — the midpoint at which half the population is older and half younger — has climbed rapidly in the last two decades, going from 29.8 years to the current 35.7.
As expected, the number of persons in various age brackets has increased. For instance, the number of persons between the ages of 50 and 64 has climbed 39.13 percent since 1990. The number of residents age 65 or older is up 19.24 percent, and the number of those 85 and older has climbed 46.15 percent.
But in Northern Virginia, the number of persons between 50 and 64 years old has soared 60.90 percent. The ranks of those 65 and older have swelled 33.79 percent and the number of those 85 and older has increased 68.07 percent.
There's another age oddity, too:
There are 36 Virginians age 110 or older. Twenty-one of them are women; 15 are men. That's a more or less typical split, since women tend to outlive men.
However, six of the 110-year-olds live in Northern Virginia, and five of them are men.
The largest single age group in the state and in Northern Virginia is the 35- to 49-year-old set. There are 1,726,911 of those middle-agers, and 480,023 (28 percent) live in the areas closest to the District. The number of Virginians in the 35-49 group has increased 26.63 percent since 1990.
The number of residences in the 40,767-square-mile state has also climbed — from 2,496,334 a decade ago to 2,940,192 now. That's a 16.34 percent gain. The increase in Northern Virginia over the period was 20.41, percent with the number of "housing units" going from 583,585 to 702,708.
Likewise, home ownership has risen more in Virginia's northern counties than elsewhere in the state. In Loudoun County, where the number of residences shot up 88.75 percent to 62,160 units, more than three-fourths (76.48 percent) of those homes are occupied by their owners.
Overall in Northern Virginia, the homeownership rate is 63.37 percent, just slightly more than the state rate of 63.29 percent.
Reflecting on the gains in population, housing and the rest, Mr. Haub advises:
"Keep in mind the background against which the changes in Virginia are happening. It's not as if the U.S. population were stable. The United States is the most rapidly growing industrialized country in the world, and there's not much chance for a slowdown. The numbers will keep rising."

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