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Foreign Born and Immigrants of Towns

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Foreign Born and Immigrants of Towns

Key Facts Foreign Born Population Overall

​The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most diverse in the country when taking into consideration the minority and foreign born (immigrant) population make-up.  Northern Virginia contains a sizable amount of the metropolitan area's diverse population.  The foreign born or immigrant population is transforming the region and many of it's towns.  Note, the terms foreign born and immigrant are used interchangeably throughout the NOVA Region Dashboard.

It is immigration that has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region, including:

  • School enrollment changes

  • Sizable increases in the number of Hispanics and Asians

  • Population and labor force growth

About the Data and Data Interpretation

Foreign born demographic data is sources from from the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 Decennial Census and the American Community Survey from 2006 to the present.  All jurisdictions in the United States are included in the Decennial Census and  five-year American Community Survey estimates, including incorporated towns.  The American Community Survey is a survey with a small sample size.  Areas with small populations typically have a large margin of error in the data due to the survey sample size being small, while this is less of an issue the larger the population.  The margin of error is shown in the popup that is displayed when hovering over a bar in the bar charts.  The ACS estimates for small places are deemed unreliable if the margin of error is large.  In addition to the margin of error, the accuracy of the American Community Survey data for an area can be gaged by evaluating the trend.  If there is a large increase or decrease in the estimate from one time period to the next, and the margin of error is large and overlaps other periods, then the large change between time periods is likely due to statistical sampling error and the data should be used with caution.  

As seen in the population charts, as of 2020, 9 of the 14 incorporated towns in Northern Virginia had a population of less than 3,000, which is considered small.  Due to the small size of many towns, the foreign born population data of small towns should be used with caution and the margin of error in the foreign born population should be taken into consideration. 

A place is considered statistically similar to its characteristics of past years/periods if the margin of error causes the low and high range of today's estimate to overlap with the past years/periods. If the figures overlap, it cannot be said for certain that a figure is different than the prior year/period, even though the middle of the road estimate may be higher or lower. Estimates are considered statistically different if the estimate range does not overlap.

Foreign Born Population Share - Current

The region's highest ranked county/city is Manassas Park City, ranking 8th in the nation at 37.9%. The town of Herndon has a foreign born population share of 44.0% which is higher than Manassas Park City and it is a statistically significant difference from Manassas Park City.

Towns that are estimated to have less foreign born population shares than the Commonwealth of Virginia are all located within rural Loudoun County (Lovettsville, Purcellville, Hamilton, Middleburg, Round Hill), except for Clifton which is located in rural Fairfax County and Quantico which is located in a densely populated part of Prince William County. 

Note, the town of Hillsboro's 2017-2021 estimate is considered to be highly unreliable based on the large margin of error, and its large increase from prior five-year periods. 

Foreign Born Population Share - Historic Compared to Current

Immigration has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region. The foreign born population is transforming the region. Northern Virginia's population was 21.4% foreign born in 2000 and has risen to 27.7% (2017-2021 ACS 5Yr Estimate).

​Large transformations since 2000 have occurred in the towns of Dumfries, Haymarket, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Occoquan, Purcellville, and Quantico.  All of these incorporated towns are located in the outer-core, which is where the majority of the region's growth has occurred. 


Note, the town of Hillsboro's 2017-2021 estimate is considered very unreliable based on the large margin of error, and its large increase from prior five-year periods. 

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