Population growth slows in Isle of Wight, declines in Surry

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2016

By Diana McFarland

News editor

Population growth in Isle of Wight County has slowed considerably in the past five years as compared to the early 2000s.

And Surry County has lost population since 2010, according to data released recently by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

From 2000 – 2010, Isle of Wight grew at a rate of about 1.6 percent a year. Since 2010, that rate has dropped to .66 percent, less than half the earlier rate, according to Weldon Cooper.

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Surry County, on the other hand, has lost 3.4 percent of its population since 2010, according to Weldon Cooper.

This trend is being reflected statewide, as growth has declined due to fewer people moving into Virginia, as well as a growing death rate and declining birth rate, according to Weldon Cooper. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Looking to the future, Isle of Wight’s growth rate will remain below levels seen in the 1990s and the early 2000s — 1.8 to 1.6 percent a year — through 2040, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

Growth will remain at less than one percent for the next five years, and begin to creep back up by 2025 to 1.18 percent, rising to 1.51 percent by 2040, according to the HRPDC.

Surry County will continue to lose population through 2025 and will increase by less than one half of one percent by 2040, according to the HRPDC.

The Hampton Roads region is also expected to grow by less than one percent over the next 25 years.

Surry’s declining population mirrors that of other rural localities across the state that are losing residents due to fewer births, more deaths and youth leaving the county, according to Weldon Cooper.

Surry County’s birth rate has fallen by more than half in the past 20 years, from 17.7 in 1995 to 7.4 per 1,000 in 2014, according to data provided by the Virginia Department of Health.

Isle of Wight County’s birth rate as remained fairly steady, dropping from 11.4 per 1,000 in 1995 to 10.3 in 2014, according to the VDH.

Death rates in both localities declined by about one point since 1995.

Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin said it’s important for the community to continue planning for a growing population, as a reversal will not last forever.

Surry County is strategically located to multiple metropolitan and growing localities, such as Isle of Wight, and will remain a place of opportunity for years to come, he said.

“Things will change for Surry as time goes on.”

Isle of Wight County’s population slowdown belies the justification for the failed and widely unpopular ISLE 2040 plan, which was based on an influx of more than 27,000 people in the next 25 years. That assumption was based on projections from the HRPDC, but was much disputed by residents and not backed up by numbers from Weldon Cooper. Weldon Cooper’s population estimates are considered the official figures for the commonwealth.

Weldon Cooper predicts the county’s population will grow by about 8,400 by 2040. Those predictions were made in 2012, are based on prior patterns and not current trends, and are more uncertain than the Center’s yearly estimates.  {/mprestriction}