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Cooperative Forecast Predicts Growth

Oct 12, 2005

The region’s latest forecast for population and household growth – approved today by the Board of Directors of Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) – reveals a robust economy that will continue to experience steady employment and population increases in coming decades.

The Round 7.0 Cooperative Forecast predicts that by 2030 the number of jobs in the region will rise by 1.4 million – an increase of 49 percent -- from initial employment figures in 2000. During the same 30-year period, the region’s population is expected to increase by 2.1 million people and more than 821,000 households. The region’s largest jurisdictions will experience the most growth, with half of all new employment expected to occur in the region’s inner suburbs of Montgomery, Prince George’s and Fairfax Counties. Forecasters also anticipate the greatest population growth to occur in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties. Diversity in these jurisdictions is also anticipated to increase, as international immigration continues to account for large share of net population growth.

“The good news is that we are growing and that we have a very robust economy,” said COG Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette. “The bad news for our jurisdictions is are potential issues of congestion as a result.”

The annual forecasts have been a staple for regional planners since 1975. They predict population, household and employment growth, and are used both in transportation planning and air quality analysis. Most recently, the regional growth patterns shown in the cooperative forecasts formed the basis for discussions at “Reality Check on Growth,” a one-day summit that brought together planners and elected officials to prepare for expected growth spurts.

Round 7.0 Forecasts show building and development patterns fall behind projected job increases by approximately 92,000 households, meaning the number of new jobs foreseen outpaces housing available to employees.

“The Metropolitan Development Policy Committee and Planning Directors believe it is an important acknowledgement that we as a region must do more to increase the number of affordable housing units within the COG footprint,” said Committee Chair Elizabeth Hewlett. “After consideration, we agreed the most reasonable assumption was that local jurisdictions over time would re-plan and rezone land sufficient to provide for the additional housing that was needed.”

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