More people from outside the Roanoke Region are moving here, helping to increase the region’s population, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Data suggests that the majority of population growth experienced in the region is due to migration from other regions of the state and the nation.
Weldon Cooper Center estimates show that 87.5 percent of population growth in the Roanoke Region is due to migration, compared to just 47 percent statewide. “This is telling us that people are recognizing that the Roanoke Region is an outstanding place to work, with a high quality of life and low cost of living,” says Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “These days, with high unemployment in other areas of the country, traffic jams around big cities and unattainable home ownership in many markets, families and businesses are seeking more attractive options like the Roanoke Region.
“In this 21st Century economy, many families and entrepreneurs are also looking for amenities we already enjoy: easy access to the outdoors, a variety of outdoor-related activities and a climate that lets them enjoy nature year-round.”
Though the region’s rate of annualized growth averaged a mere 0.3 percent between 2000 and 2003, its growth rate more than doubled by the end of the decade. Annualized growth rates for the region averaged 0.8 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to Weldon Cooper Center data.
Compared with the rest of Virginia, the Roanoke Region’s growth rate was a full percentage point below the state between 2000-2003 but now trails the Commonwealth’s rate by only four-tenths of a percentage point in the last three years, signaling improvement.
According to Internal Revenue Service data, the Roanoke Region has attracted roughly 2,800 households each year from out of state. Nearly 55 percent of these households come from the South, 18.5 percent of these households from the Northeast, 15.7 percent from the Midwest, and 10.9 percent from the West Coast.
IRS figures also reveal a healthy amount of migration from surrounding counties in Virginia as well as from traffic-choked Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.
“With growth at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute under way, it’s possible that future migration statistics will show an increased level of migration to the region,” Doughty says.