Washington, D.C. – The region will add more than one million people and jobs over the next 25 years according to the most recent draft of forecasts jointly developed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and area governments. The figures show the region’s population will increase from 5.3 million to 6.6 million and jobs will increase from 3.2 million to 4.4 million between now and 2040.
While the region’s outer suburbs will experience a faster rate of population and employment growth (34.7 and 51.5 percent, respectively) than its central jurisdictions (31.8 and 28.3 percent) and inner suburbs (17.8 and 35.4 percent) during this time span, the inner suburbs will continue to have the largest share of the region’s population and employment in 2040.
For transportation planning purposes, COG planners presented the forecast numbers during today’s meeting of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). In addition to the COG’s member governments, the presentation included forecast numbers of neighboring jurisdictions in Southern Maryland, nearby Baltimore suburbs, the Fredericksburg area, and Jefferson County, West Virginia, which are part of the area the TPB uses for travel modeling and forecasting.
The forecasts play a key role in the update to the region's long-range transportation plan. As part of the update, the TPB will conduct two detailed analyses, one that forecasts future changes in travel patterns under the proposed update, and another that quantifies the air quality impact of those changes.
Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, who serves on the TPB, said local governments are preparing to accommodate the projected growth in their master plans. He added that these figures underscore the importance of concentrating development in places with established infrastructure, rather than spreading out the growth.
COG Community Planning and Services Director Paul DesJardin noted recent data that shows the region is increasing development in more transit-accessible, mixed-use Activity Centers, including more than half of new residential growth and three-quarters of new job growth.
Planners also said that the next round of forecasts, a major update, to be completed at this time next year may reflect more significant changes to the numbers, a potential effect of the recent flattening of the region’s economy.
Since 2011, according to the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, federal procurement has declined by $13 billion about 5,000 federal jobs have been lost each year in the region. To address these challenges and identify opportunities for collaboration, COG Board Chairman and City of Alexandria Mayor William Euille announced earlier this month that regional economic competitiveness will be the primary focus of the Council of Governments in 2015.
The Cooperative Forecasts have been developed jointly by COG and local planning departments since 1975. The forecasts are used by local governments and regional and federal agencies in areas such as transportation planning, air and water quality, and housing.