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Weldon Cooper Center Population Projections Released for Accomack & Northampton for 2040

The Weldon Cooper Center has published the 2040 population projection for all Virginia cities and counties. Accomack County’s population is expected to remain stable and grow slightly to 33,661 by 2040 from 33,164 counted in the 2010 Census. The Center also expects Northampton County to have a population decline to 11,896 in 2040 from 12,389 in the 2010 Census.

A-NPDC staff attended an information session about how these projections were made. Rural communities all across the state were in attendance and there was much disagreement with the numbers. Almost all rural communities felt the projections were too low.

The Center makes these projections for the Virginia Employment Commission and they follow a standard procedure. While it is exceedingly difficult to make the projections almost 30 years into the future, the basic procedure is to count women of childbearing age, birth rates, mortality rates, out-migration and an estimate of growth coming from in-migration (immigration is part of this but in our region most migrants come from inside the USA not foreign nationals). Each group is listed into age cohorts and the mortality rates are applied as well as birth rates and then the group is aged again applying expected motality rates and expected birth rates. The Center indicates the confidence level for individual counties at 30 years is 36%.

For Accomack, this suggests the numbers will range from 21,550 to 45,780. For Northampton, the numbers will range from 7,620 to 16,180. This may suggest that the projections are useless but it is important to understand that with our current birth rates, death rates and growth our region will be very stable with slight growth in Accomack and slight decline in Northampton. The confidence level has such a wide swing not because the method is flawed but because individual counties and cities make decisions that impact their future.

Stability in population does come at a cost to the region. Virginia as a whole is expected to add over 2,500,000 more people. These projections suggest that the Shore can expect more constituencies will be added from Hampton Roads to federal and state legislative delegations. The same will be mirrored in other aspects of life. Going forward, our region needs to remain on our toes to continue to improve our quality of life. Whether the Eastern Shore remains stable, declines in population or even begins growing, we should not expect growth to replace the hard work needed to make improvements for our region’s people.

For more information on the population projects, check out

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