Va.'s numbers of Hispanics and Asians skyrocket as white population dwindles

Preliminary census figures point to sizeable gains for minorities - particularly Hispanics - as states prepare to redraw political maps.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 4, 2011; 12:00 AM

Soaring numbers of Hispanics and Asians pushed Virginia's population over 8 million in the past decade, transforming the state into a far more diverse place, according to census figures released Thursday.

The state's white population barely grew. As a result, fewer than two-thirds of all Virginians are now white.

Northern Virginia cemented its position as the state's growth engine, responsible for half of the state's increase of 922,000 people in the past decade. Almost 40 percent of the growth in the state occurred in three Northern Virginia counties: Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun.

The 2010 Census numbers underscore how the home of the former capital of the Confederacy is evolving into a mosaic of races and ethnicities from around the world. It has grown by a third in the past two decades, and its very character is changing. Today, seven of 10 Virginians live in three big urban areas, and Virginia's once-mighty rural areas are shrinking. Dozens of small towns, mostly in the rural southwest and Southside, lost residents.

With a population of 2.4 million, Northern Virginia is certain to reap the benefits of its torrid growth. The spoils will lead to more political power in Richmond and more resources for roads and schools.

"The good news is that Northern Virginia is going to get representation, so we can get our due," said Kenneth Reid, a Leesburg Town Council member.

Reid said his little town has grown so rapidly that he wishes he had taken a video of how the county seat used to look, preserving for posterity its once-bucolic nature. The highways and strip malls had yet to be built when he moved to Leesburg nine years ago.

Loudoun County was in a league of its own in the past decade, adding 142,000 residents. As with the state as a whole, much of the growth was fueled by minorities. The Asian population quintupled, Hispanics tripled and blacks doubled. Non-Hispanic whites increased at a much slower pace and today account for a little more than six in 10 residents in the county.

Statewide, the number of Hispanics almost doubled, to 632,000. Hispanics now make up 8 percent of Virginia residents, and a third are younger than 18, a harbinger of future growth as young people come of age and have children. In contrast, just about one in five of all non-Hispanics in Virginia is a child.

The state's Asian population also took off, climbing by 68 percent in 10 years.

In a state that in living memory had anti-miscegenation laws on the books, there was a striking jump in the number of Virginians who describe themselves as multiracial. The number rose from 90,000 to 233,000 in the past decade. A third of the growth was in Northern Virginia, and most of the rest was in the Hampton Roads area and Central Virginia.

Although the numbers were much smaller, multiracial residents also doubled in many rural sections of the state.

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