DEMOGRAPHICS

 

Understanding past, present, and future county demographic trends provides an essential framework for community planning. Specific trends have measurable impact on our land use requirements, transportation network, public services, zoning, and schools.

 

General Population

Historical Trends With a peak population

of 5,647 people in 1900, Highland County experienced the majority of its growth before

the start of the 20th century. According to annual estimates, the county population decreased by 3.8 percent between 1990 and 2000 and then between 2000 and 2010; it decreased significantly again by 8.5%.

 

 

1990

2000

2010

Total Population

 

 

2,635

 

2,536

 

2,321*

 

Population Change

 

-10.3%

 

 

-3.8%

 

-8.5%

Source: *2010 Census

 


  





In 2010, 98.9% of residents were white. The population is almost evenly divided between males and females with females slightly edging out males according to the ACS 5 year estimates. This gender distribution mirrors statewide figures, while statewide the population is 72.3% white.

 

 

1990

2000

2010

White

2,630

2,517

2,289*

Black

3

5

6*

Hispanic

5

13

18*

Males

1,304

1,254

1,173**

Females

1,331

1,282

1,226**

Source: *2010 Census

 **2005-2009 ACS 5 year Estimate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population ProjectionsThe population was 2,321 in the year 2010.  The projection for 2020 is 2,400 residents, and for 2030, it is 2,330 residents.

 

 

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Population Projection

 

2,635*

 

 

2,536*

 

2,321*

 

2,400

 

2,330

  Source: Virginia Employment Commission

**Actual

 




Migration Factors

Aside from annexation, there are two ways a community sustains its population. One is to maintain a higher number of births than deaths (natural increase); the other is to have new residents move in from elsewhere (migration.)

 

The county population is decreasing as a result of natural change. As such, the county is unique among counties in our comparison. Generally, when population changes are the result of inward migration, one or more “push-pull” factors are at work. These may include family changes, housing affordability, educational opportunities, cultural and recreational outlets or job availability. However, in Highland County, the trend is for residents to leave the County in search of employment or to continue their education.

 

Population Distribution

Highland County is the least populated county in Virginia. The small population, coupled with a relatively large land area, results in a very low population density. According to 2010 Census, the population density per square mile for the three primary areas in the county was: Blue Grass (3.97), Stonewall (3.93), and Monterey/Town of Monterey (11.61).

 

Population Characteristics

Households — Highland’s total population decreased by 13.7 percent from 1980 to 2000, but the number of households increased by 2.0 percent. By 2010, the total population in Highland decreased yet again to 2,321, while the number of households increased by 8.9%.

 

Age — Age is an essential tool of community analysis because many resident needs and behaviors are life-cycle related. Highland’s median age increased significantly from 34.3 in 1980 to 40.7 in 1990 and to 46.0 in 2000. By 2010, the median age again increased significantly to 50.

 

 

1990

2000

2010

Median Age

 

40.7

 

 

46.0

 

50.0

 

Source: 2010 Census

 




A significant trend in the county’s age distribution through 2030 is the projected decrease in various age groups up through middle age, with a projected increase in the number of late middle age and retirement age residents.

 

These trends have a substantial impact on Highland’s workforce and economic status, as well as affecting county services such as the school system. Since Highland’s proportion of child-bearing aged adults is shrinking, the total number of young children can be anticipated to decrease over the next few years. Our school enrollment and class size will reflect this trend.

 

An increasingly older population also presents additional challenges. One important example is the availability and accessibility of medical care in support of this growing population segment.

 

Planning reflects the needs and desires of the county population. A stable population that gets increasingly older will have a different impact on the nature of county planning compared to a growing county with upward trends in all age categories.

 

 


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