By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 3, 2011; 10:34 PM
Fairfax County, the economic behemoth and steadily urbanizing heart of Northern Virginia, grew by nearly 112,000 people, almost 12 percent, over the past decade, marking a slower pace of growth compared with neighboring counties and its increase in the 1990s, according to 2010 Census data released Thursday.
The suburban county of more than 1 million people also grew more diverse, as the percentage of whites declined and minorities, particularly Asians and Latinos, grew.
The 2010 Census reported Thursday that Fairfax's population was almost 1,082,000, up from about 970,000 in 2000. The county grew more than 18 percent during the 1990s.
As more immigrants arrived this past decade, Asians solidified their status as the county's largest minority, increasing by 50 percent, while Latinos or Hispanics of any race grew nearly 58 percent.
The number of white non-Hispanic residents declined by about 5 percent. As a percentage of the population, the 2010 Census found that whites now account for about 55 percent, compared with about 64 percent in 2000.
Combined with demographic data compiled by Fairfax County, the numbers help to profile a suburb transformed in large part by age and immigration.
The 2010 Census did not divide the Asian population into separate groups. But Fairfax officials say it is clear that there has been a rapid increase in the population of Korean Americans, who have transformed Annandale and Centreville into bustling communities of ethnic restaurants, churches and businesses.
"Over the decades it has grown - all you have to do is visit Annandale and Centreville," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D).
Bulova said the new residents have also included large numbers of Asian Indians and people from the Middle East.
Like other parts of the country, the county's proportion of aging residents has grown, Fairfax figures show, and the census indicates its proportion of younger residents is 24 percent, down from 25.
County officials are awaiting the American Community Survey this fall, expecting it to confirm another trend identified by county demographer Anne Cahill and social services officials: More and more of the region's immigrants, working poor and impoverished families have bypassed the District and settled in the suburbs.
"Historically, they would settle in one of the inner cities. They don't do that anymore," Cahill said.