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2020 Census: IW’s population up, Surry’s down

Isle of Wight County grew roughly 9.5% in population between 2010 and 2020 according to data the U.S. Census Bureau released Aug. 12.

Isle of Wight’s current population stands at 38,606 according to the latest census data. Surry County, on the other hand, dropped by 7% from just over 7,058 residents as of 2010 to 6,561 as of 2020.

Housing growth in Isle of Wight County has far outpaced the state and the region. The number of housing units in Isle of Wight is up to 16,441 — about 12.4% more than in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of housing units in Southside Virginia is up only 1.4%, while it is up 7.6% across the state.

About 69.2% of Isle of Wight County residents identified as white on the census, while 22.4% identified as Black. About 5.6% identified as multiracial, with 1.1% identifying as Asian and 1.7% identifying as some other race.

Isle of Wight’s percentage of Black residents has been steadily declining over the past 20 years. According to the Smithfield Times archives, Blacks comprised 27% of the county’s population in 2000 and dropped to 24% in 2010. Based on the latest census data, Isle of Wight’s Black population dropped another 2% from 2010 to 2020.

The number of Asians living in Isle of Wight, on the other hand, has continued to increase. In 2000, 101 of the county’s roughly 29,000 residents were of Asian descent, accounting for just 0.3% of its population. By 2010, the count had risen to 281 out of roughly 35,000 residents. Now, the figure stands at around 424, accounting for 1.1% of Isle of Wight’s 38,606 residents.

The percentage of people identifying as Hispanic or Latino in Isle of Wight County also grew, with 3.1% now identifying as such. Only 1.9% did so at the 2010 census. The U.S. Census Bureau tracks Hispanic/Latino ethnicity separately from race, and people who identify as such can be of any race.

“Our initial impression is that the Census data appears to be in line with our expectations,” said Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson. “Our preliminary review shows that the County has grown at a very healthy and manageable rate of about 1% per year over the past decade.”

Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors plans to discuss options for redrawing the county’s voting districts based on the new data during its Aug. 19 meeting. The county does not yet have a timeline for completing the redistricting process, Robertson said.

In Surry County, population has declined to a point lower than it was in 2000, according to census data. The number of housing units in the county has dropped slightly, down 1.2% from 2010. There are now 3,402 housing units in Surry.

The county includes 53.1% of residents who identify as white, 41.1% as Black, 4.4% as multiracial, 0.2% as Asian and 1.3% as some other race. By comparison, in 2010, 51% of Surry’s residents identified as white, 46% as Black, and the remaining 4% as either Asian, multiracial or some other race.

The downward trend in Surry’s Black population represents a significant shift from 1970 when, according to the Smithfield Times archives, Surry’s racial ratio held at 65% Black and 35% white.

Surry County Administrator Melissa Rollins was unable to be reached for comments on the data by press deadline Tuesday.