WASHINGTON – (WMAL) It may not seem like it on the Beltway at rush hour, but the D.C. region, for the third straight year, saw more people leave than come in, according to a report from the D.C. Policy Center.
The report also found the D.C. region bucks the national trend, in that people are still moving into the District itself, while the suburbs are losing residents. In most other metropolitan areas, the city is losing population while the suburbs gain it.
“There was a lot of migration into the region during and immediately following the Recession, but things have really cooled off quite a bit,” the report’s author, Mike Maciag, told WMAL.
The region lost a net total of 31,000 residents to other parts of the country in 2016, the report said. That’s a steep decline from previous years and a startling reversal from years immediately following the Recession in which more people were moving in year over year.
However, the District itself is still enjoying a net positive change in its population.
“What we’re seeing is that the suburbs and all those jurisdictions are losing population, while migration to the District has remained steady,” Maciag said. “What’s happening here is really running counter to national trends. Elsewhere, migration to the suburbs has really picked up recently, with more people moving out of cities, which is a return to the way things were prior to the Recession. But here, the suburbs are actually losing population.”
There was a net increase in the District of about 2,300 people in 2016, and 2,900 in 2015.
That wasn’t enough to save the region as a whole, however. Fairfax County was hit the hardest, losing 17,800 residents between 2015 and 2016. Both Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties lost over 8,000 residents in that time.
Outside of the District, the only other jurisdiction to see a significant increase in population from 2015 to 2016 was Loudoun County, which gained almost 5,000 residents.
The report notes the region’s population as a whole still continues to grow, mainly thanks to gains in international migration and births that offset the losses in domestic migration.
“The region was able to weather the Recession much better than other parts of the country,” Maciag said. “But now many of those places have rebounded. People are really following the jobs.”
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