The first glimpse of the 2020 U.S. Census dropped last week, confirming a lot of what those of us who live in Greene know: the county is growing quickly. The population of Greene County has grown by 2,149 people—or 12%—across the last 10 years to 20,552.
The numbers are part of the 2020 Census Redistricting Data released on Aug. 12 by the U.S. Census Bureau to allow states to begin the process of redistricting (or creating the districts for the U.S. Congress and state elections). The goal for the state redistricting commission is to create districts of similar size using the numbers of those aged 18 and older. Greene County has 15,892 adults, according to the 2020 Census.
Greene County remains majority white with 16,520 identifying as white alone—a 3% increase. The largest increase was among those who identify as being of two or more races with a 241% increase to 1,395. The number of residents of Asian descent alone grew by 77% to 457. Greene saw a growth of 70% in its Hispanic population in the past decade, as well, to 1,330. The number of Black residents grew by 24% to 1,447 residents.
In the past decade, Greene’s growth outpaced all its contiguous counties, except Albemarle which had nearly 14% growth from 2010-2020 to 112,395 residents. Rockingham County welcomed 7,443 new residents to bring the total to 83,757. Orange County now has 36,254 residents, an increase of 8.3%. Madison County’s population increased by 529 residents—or 4%.
The commonwealth of Virginia’s population rose by 630,369 residents to 8,631,393—with the largest number of residents in the counties in Northern Virginia.
Not all Virginia counties saw growth, especially in Southwest Virginia. Wise County lost the most residents numerically with -5,322. However, Buchanan County lost the most percentage-wise, losing nearly 16% of its population in the last decade. Lee County comes in at a close second, losing 13% of its population from 2010-2020. The counties of Montgomery, Floyd, Roanoke, Botetourt, Rockbridge and Bedford all gained residents in Southwest Virginia with Bedford’s 6% growth the highest. Montgomery—with Virginia Tech—came in second at 5.6% growth. The majority of Southside Virginia, specifically the counties that border North Carolina, also lost residents.
In addition to voting districts, census numbers are used to plan for schools, public safety and infrastructure and are used by the federal government to divvy up federal funding for schools, Head Start and mental health services—not to mention the two recent tranches of federal stimulus funds to mitigate the effects from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The census data offers a snapshot of what the population was in April 2020.
The United States grew at the slowest rate since the Great Depression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The total 7.4% increase in America’s population—to 331.4 million—is lower than the previous decade’s 9.7% increase. The country grew by 22.7 million citizens since 2010.
“Less than half of the nation’s 3,143 counties or equivalents gained population from 2010 to 2020, while the populations of around fourth-fifths of metro areas grew during that time period,” according to a U.S. Census Bureau news release.
The 2020 Census information gathering happened during a global pandemic and instead of following up face to face with those who did not complete the online or phone census forms, the bureau extended the response period until the end of October 2021. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 71.5% of Virginians self-responded for the census. Greene was in the 43rd position out of 133 counties in the state with a 71% response rate. Albemarle had a 73.2% response rate; Rockingham had a 71.7% response rate; Orange had a 70.4% response rate; and 67.1% of Madison residents self-responded.