Localities in Northern Virginia should expect moderate levels of job growth over the next two decades, with the metro area as a whole adding perhaps 880,000 new people by 2045.
“We are a region growing by 1% per year on average. It’s not too fast, it’s not incredibly high. It’s actually a very manageable pace,” said Arlington County Board Member Takis Karantonis, analyzing new data at the March 22 board meeting.
Figures come from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which show the region’s overall population growth is essentially on par with job growth – the population is expected to reach a hair under a million by 2045 .
Over that 23-year period, employment is projected to grow 27% in Arlington and Fairfax counties, with slightly lower but nearly identical growth rates in the District of Columbia (24%) and Alexandria (23 %) and higher rates in the outer suburbs of Loudoun (37%) and Prince William (56%) counties.
The figures come from a consolidation of forecasts from individual communities and are “one of the prerequisites for good planning”, Karantonis said.
“We see how much effort we have to put into housing, transport, environmental policy, etc., etc.,” he said.
In terms of household growth (which is similar, but not completely parallel to population growth), Arlington is expected to see a 29.4% increase by 2024, according to current estimates, with Alexandria up 37% and Falls Church up huge. 77 percent. These numbers seem to suggest that communities that are already somewhat urbanized, or in the case of Falls Church seemingly on the road to urbanization, will continue to see additional housing move in.
In the outer suburbs, the total number of households is expected to increase by 31% in Loudoun and Prince William counties, which still have large undeveloped swaths that may be suitable for new housing.
In Fairfax County, which serves as a buffer between the Arlington/Alexandria urbanization on the one hand and the more suburban/rural Loudoun and Prince William on the other, the household growth rate is expected to be 25% during the period.
Council of Governments staff are working on updating the projections, which will soon extend to 2050.
As anyone who has followed recent attempts to project future school enrollment in Northern Virginia can attest, providing projections decades into the future is a mixture of science, art, and alchemy, with perhaps a bit of voodoo. But Karantonis said he was comfortable with the numbers COG has come up with on population and employment growth.
“I have every confidence that it’s done well,” he said. “It’s not wishful thinking.”
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