County Releases Comprehensive Demographic Study

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 711, FAX 703-324-2010

March 13, 2006

Fairfax County Releases Comprehensive
Demographic Study Highlighting Trends

Chairman Gerald E. Connolly and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors released a comprehensive demographic study today, “Anticipating the Future: A Discussion of Trends in Fairfax County,” which highlights the past, present and future of the county.

“Anticipating the Future” is the first study done in Fairfax County that brings together data from more than 75 major sources to demonstrate trends with implications and inferences covering human and social needs, housing, public safety, patterns of income and wealth, health care, technology change and community engagement.

“This study will illuminate and enlighten almost everything that we do in the county, from formulating public policy to preparing for future needs in the budget process, as well as addressing the board’s six priorities,” Connolly said. “Working together with the community, we can address our future through a continuation of active community involvement, and this information will help us make the tough choices that lie ahead.”

While the trends are organized around 11 topic areas, the study was designed to be read as a whole because too narrow a focus may miss countervailing trends that must be balanced when assessing their impact on community needs. Highlights from the study show:

  • During the next 15 years, job growth and other changes in the economy are expected to be less dramatic than during the past 30 years, but it is still anticipated that nearly 200,000 new jobs will be added to the Fairfax County economy through 2020.

  • In 1970, 36 percent of county residents who worked outside of the home worked in Fairfax County; today nearly 55 percent live and work in the county.

  • The county’s population is aging in place. The median age of residents has significantly increased since 1970 from 25.2 years to 37.6 years of age. The number of residents over the age of 65 is expected to grow by 80 percent from 2000 to 2020. At the same time, while proportionally decreasing as a percent of total population, it is expected that by 2020, the county will add nearly 43,000 new residents under the age of 19.

  • Racial and ethnic minorities have grown from 6.8 percent of the population in 1970 to 38.2 percent in 2003. By 2010, approximately 45 percent of the county’s population may be racial and ethnic minorities and 39 percent may speak a language other than English at home.

  • Fairfax County tends to attract highly educated foreign-born residents who come from more than 100 countries; no one group forms a predominant majority. Only New York City has a foreign-born population as diverse as Northern Virginia. A larger proportion of Fairfax County’s foreign-born adults have a four-year college degree than all adults nationwide.

  • Many of the county’s children are children of immigrants. As of 2000, an estimated 38 percent of Fairfax County children under age 18 had at least one foreign-born parent. Yet, more than 75 percent of children in Fairfax County who are children of immigrants were born here and are U.S. citizens.

  • Despite all of the growth, a Fairfax County resident is less likely to be the victim of either a violent crime or a property crime today than during the three previous decades. As of 2004, the violent crime rate was 44 percent lower than it was in 1980 and the property crime rate was 61 percent lower.

  • The nature of crime is changing. A decade ago, public safety was primarily a local or regional activity. Today, Fairfax County public safety organizations must respond to dangers that originate elsewhere in the world.

  • The county will continue to face challenges in the housing arena. The proportion of both homeowners and renters who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing has increased since 2000 to more than 25 percent of homeowners and over 45 percent of renters. Average monthly rents have grown from $334 in 1980 to $1,157 in 2004.

  • Between 1970 and 2004, median household income grew from $14,854 to $88,133 per year. However, the gap between those with the most income and those with the least income has widened.

  • A family with two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child would need a combined hourly wage of $31.48 or an annual income of $66,504 to meet basic needs for self-sufficiency in Fairfax County. This is nearly three-and-a-half times the federal poverty guideline for a family of four.

  • Fairfax County residents have been rapid adopters of technology. Ten years after the World Wide Web began in 1990, 78.7 percent of all Fairfax-Falls Church households had Internet access at home.

“Anticipating the Future” was requested by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in May 2004 to review current and forecasted changes in the county’s demographics and the impact of those changes on county services. In November 2004, a working paper was released summarizing future trends with a focus on the growth in the county’s senior population. This study updates and expands on that initial work.

“Anticipating the Future” was compiled, researched and analyzed by Fairfax County’s Department of Systems Management for Human Services and Department of Management and Budget. To add depth and to discuss implications, focus group sessions were conducted with Fairfax County agency staff, public safety staff and school staff. Additionally, this report was peer reviewed by experts at George Mason University, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, U.S. Census Bureau and Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia.

The Board of Supervisors, in initiating the study, is encouraging a process of creative thinking, data-driven community dialogue and innovation in order to prepare Fairfax County for the future. This study will help inform future meetings and initiatives, such as the upcoming Community Summit to End Homelessness scheduled for April 7.

The full report can be accessed online at Printed copies can be purchased for $4 from the Maps and Publications Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Suite 156, 703-324-2974, TTY 711.

For more information about the study, contact the Department of Systems Management for Human Services at 703-324-5638, TTY 711.

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