New report shows population growth has stagnated in Fairfax County

Maple Avenue in Vienna (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County’s population growth has slowed to a crawl, and it’s unclear if that’s a temporary result of the pandemic or a more permanent trend.

The newly published 2022 Demographic Report indicates that the county’s population has slowed since 2020. It decreased in 2021 for the first time since 1840, though 2022 saw a slight rebound from that — an increase of a fraction of a percent.

According to a press release on the report from the county:

Population growth has slowed down in the county since 2020. In fact, in 2021 the total population decreased, resulting in the first negative growth recorded in Fairfax County since 1840.

The Census Bureau Vintage 2021 Population estimates indicate that all factors — largely reduced international in-migration, declined natural growth and increased domestic out-migration — contributed to the slowing of population growth. The 2022 Demographic Report shows that our population growth saw a mild recovery (the total population in 2022 was estimated to be 1,172,646, a 0.2% annual growth), it remains to be seen whether the slowed growth is temporary due to the pandemic.

Still, population forecasts estimate continued but slow growth over the next few decades, from the current 1.2 million up to 1.4 million by 2050.

While the Town of Herndon’s population is expected to swell from 22,308 people to 28,385 by 2050, the forecasts estimate populations in Clifton and Vienna will remain fairly stagnant. Vienna is estimated to hit 17,326 residents by 2030 and stay around that number through 2050.

The report indicated the market value of housing units continues to outpace increases in household income, particularly in the Sully District:

In 2022, the county’s median market value of owned housing units was $648,270, a 10.9% increase from 2021. Among Supervisor Districts, the highest increase was in the Sully District (up 14%), and the lowest was in the Hunter Mill District (up 7.8%). The average monthly rent increased from $1,787 in 2020 to $1,913 in 2021, based on the latest 2021 Rental Housing Complex Analysis report.

Meanwhile, the report noted that the 2021 American Community Survey 1-Year estimated Fairfax County’s median household income only increased 4.5% between 2019 and 2021 — growing only half as fast as housing costs.

The survey estimated the county’s median household income as $134,115, which is almost double the national average of $69,717.