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Despite federal spending cuts, Northern Virginia keeps growing

WASHINGTON — Northern Virginia is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the state, according to 2015 population estimates from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The population increased by 8.7 percent, adding 232,297 residents over the past five years, bringing the total to 2,909,438, the center estimates.

Loudoun County grew the fastest, with a population boom of nearly 20 percent. Falls Church grew 15 percent; Alexandria drew 14 percent; Arlington grew 13 percent; and Fredericksburg grew 11 percent.

Fairfax County, already the largest county in Virginia, added another 47,600 people, growing 4.4 percent, to a new estimated total of 1,129,330. Prince William County, Loudoun County, Arlington and Alexandria followed behind.

Of all the counties and cities, seven of the 10 fastest growing were in Northern Virginia.

Four years ago, the center estimated modest growth or even a population increase by 2020 for Manassas, Manassas Park and Arlington County. The region’s more urban areas grew much faster than predicted in 2012. The immediate suburban counties grew close to the expected pace; the outer counties grew slower.

In the region’s southern end, Stafford County was expected to see a 40 percent increase from 2010 to 2020, but according to the 2015 estimate, the county grew 8.7 percent in that five-year span.

Spotsylvania County was expected to see a 36 percent increase from census to census, but the 2015 estimate had the county grow by 5.4 percent. The Weldon Cooper Center predicted both counties would grow about 135 percent by 2040.

The center also broke down the figures by planning regions across Virginia, which are generally narrower than metropolitan areas.

The Northern Virginia Planning District, which generally includes the core of D.C.’s Virginia suburbs — Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park — was the fastest growing district in the entire commonwealth, adding 205,523 people for a total of 2,436,146. That’s a 9.2 percent increase.

The George Washington Regional Commission, which is the greater Fredericksburg area — Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George — was the second-fastest district in the commonwealth, adding 22,762 people for a total of 327,773, an increase of 6.9 percent.

The commonwealth overall added 381,969 residents, for a 2015 estimated total of 8,382,993, an increase of 4.8 percent.

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