Loudoun County population is the fastest-growing in fast-growing Northern Virginia

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2011

Loudoun County grew at a blistering rate over the past decade, adding more than 142,000 residents and outpacing every other jurisdiction in fast-growing Northern Virginia, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The county's minority population fueled much of the growth, with Asians quintupling from 9,000 in 2000 to about 46,000 in 2010, the census data show.

The number of Hispanics tripled to more than 38,000 in the past 10 years, and non-Hispanic blacks doubled to about 22,000. The number of residents who identified themselves as multiracial also tripled to more than 12,000, the data showed.

The non-Hispanic white population also increased but at a slower rate, growing from almost 135,000 in 2000 to about 195,000 in 2010. Non-Hispanic whites now make up a little more than 62 percent of the county's 312,000 residents.

Most of Loudoun's growth and demographic shifts are concentrated in its eastern suburbs, where rapid commercial and residential growth and the Dulles Technology Corridor have drawn huge numbers of people in the past two decades.

The demographic changes are especially apparent in communities such as Sterling, a suburb east of Ashburn that has seen its population of non-Hispanic white residents drop from 70 percent to 42 percent in the past 10 years, while the percentage of Hispanics has risen from 11 percent to 33 percent during that period, the data show.

South Riding and Ashburn have also had a significant demographic shift since 2000, with the population of non-Hispanic white residents falling from 83 percent to 53 percent in South Riding and 81 percent to 64 percent in Ashburn. The Asian population tripled from 5 percent to 15 percent in Ashburn, and more than quintupled from 5 percent to 29 percent in South Riding.

The changes in these communities are mirrored in the school population, said Wayde Byard, Loudoun public schools spokesman. About 78 percent of Loudoun students were non-Hispanic white in 2000, a number that fell to 61 percent last year, he said.

"There has not been a year where the white population has gone up between 1989 and 2010," Byard said. "We're seeing the diversity grow and spread from east to west."

A more diverse student population has meant a cultural change for the school system, as well, Byard said. Every school is assigned a "parent liaison" to help families learn how to navigate the school system. The program began about 10 years ago, he said.

The number of children in Loudoun leapt from about 50,000 in 2000 to more than 95,000 last year, according to the census data. The school system, with about 63,000 students enrolled this year, has struggled to keep up with the pace of the county's growth over the past decade.

During the annual State of Education address in September, School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III predicted that the county would need to build 21 schools and fund a public schools budget of $1.6 billion by 2019 to accommodate an anticipated 92,000 students.

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