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Population estimates for 2021 show declines in Fairfax County, D.C. region

Fairfax County recently released its demographics report for 2021 (via Fairfax County)

A newly released report shows Fairfax County’s population decreased, reversing a trend of growth.

According to the report from the Department of Management and Budget, the county’s population decreased during 2020-2021 from 1,171,800 to 1,170,000 people — a decline of 1,800 people, or 0.2%.

That estimate is similar to another from the U.S. Census Bureau, which also suggests the county saw a smaller percentage drop in population than what many of its neighbors had.

Population changes in the D.C. region

County/Area 2020 Census (April 1) 2021 estimate (July 1) % change
Arlington 238,643 232,965 -2.4%
D.C. 689,545 670,050 -2.8%
Fairfax 1,150,309 1,139,720 -.09%
Loudoun 420,959 427,592 1.6%
Montgomery 1,062,061 1,054,827 -0.7%
Prince George’s 967,201 955,306 -1.2%
Prince William 482,204 484,472 0.5%
Source: census.gov

In fact, the Census reported last week that more than 73% of U.S. counties experienced a “natural decrease” in population from 2020 to 2021, a trend that it attributes to fewer births, an aging populace, and higher mortality rates — including from COVID-19.

In Fairfax County, a tight housing supply and increases in remote work that allow people more flexibility in where they live could also be contributing factors.

“Housing construction delays created less new space for population growth and single-family dwelling unit vacancy was up in 2021,” the budget department’s Economic, Demographic and Statistical Research unit, which compiled the report, told FFXnow.

The housing stock in Fairfax County has increased over the years, but the rate significantly slowed last year. The county only added 1,500 housing units in 2021, half of what was added in 2020.

Don’t expect the slowdown in growth to last, however. According to the demographic report’s forecasts, the county will hit 1.2 million people by 2025, exceed 1.3 million by 2040, and reach 1.38 million people in 2050.

As reported by the 2020 Census, Fairfax County is now a minority-majority county, with white individuals making up 49.5% of the population. The remainder of residents breaks down as 20.5% Asian or Pacific Islander, 19.8% other, 9.6% Black, and 0.6% Native American. 17.3% of the county is Hispanic.

The demographic report includes household and family income data, but those numbers haven’t been updated for 2020 or 2021 “due to COVID-19 introduced nonresponse bias.”

The county uses the demographics reports to develop policy, write grants, budget, plan infrastructure projects, and more.

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