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U.S. Census data is now available for individual localities, as well as the block level – the smallest geographical unit typically measured by the U.S. Census Bureau.  In addition to changes analyzed throughout the U.S., the data, released on August 12th, provides insight into population trends for the West Piedmont Planning District, which consists of Franklin, Henry, Patrick, and Pittsylvania counties, and the cities of Danville and Martinsville.

As the graph below depicts, each of the localities comprising the West Piedmont Planning District declined in population since the 2010 Census.

In terms of percentage change, each locality’s population declined as follows:

  • Franklin County’s population declined by 3.0%
  • Henry County’s population declined by 5.9%
  • Patrick County’s population declined by 4.8%
  • Pittsylvania County’s population declined by 4.7%
  • The City of Danville’s population declined by 1.1%
  • The City of Martinsville’s population declined by 2.4%

An interesting takeaway from these statistics is that, while all of the counties and cities in the region lost population between the 2010 and 2020 Census, the cities of Danville and Martinsville experienced a lower rate of population decline than did the counties.  Danville’s population decline was likely thwarted by the explosive growth of the River District, which experienced a surge of residential growth due to the conversion of former tobacco warehouses into downtown apartments and condominiums.

The table below drills down to the town level, and reveals a trend markedly different from the population changes in the region’s counties and cities.  The table shows that most towns, with the exception of Chatham and Hurt, experienced some growth.  It appears, then, that the region’s residents may have a preference for town living as opposed to residing in rural areas or in the Planning District’s two cities.  Like cities, towns often provide shopping opportunities, health care, and other services in close proximity to one-another and residential areas, often enabling residents to walk or bike to their destinations.  In Rocky Mount, for instance, many residences are located within a short walk of many uptown and downtown businesses and a short drive from a Wal-Mart, fast food establishments, and supermarkets.  Residents of Stuart can likewise patronize businesses along North Main Street, Patrick Avenue, and the Stuart Farmers’ Market.  Residents in Gretna have food shopping close by, in addition to Centra Gretna Medical Center.

The Census figures also reveal changes in the racial makeup of the West Piedmont Planning District.  The percentage of the White/Caucasian population declined slightly, while the share of the Black/African-American population increased slightly.  Other noteworthy trends are that the shares of the Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Other populations all increased in the Region over this period, with the American Indian or Alaska Native group more than doubling and the Other population category nearly doubling.

The Hispanic population of the region, mirroring a national trend, increased from 2010 to 2020.  In fact, the Hispanic population of each locality experienced an increase over this time period.

The U.S. Census Bureau, in its August 12, 2021 press release entitled “2020 Census Statistics Highlight Local Population Changes and Nation’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity,” noted several national trends, which include the following:

  • The U.S. population continued its shift to urban areas over the past decade, with metropolitan areas growing by 9 percent; 86 percent of the U.S. population resides in a metro area.
  • The 2020 Census revealed that the nation has been growing more slowly than it has in the past, resulting in population loss of 52 percent of America’s counties. This may at least partially explain the county population losses in our region.
  • 312 of 384 metro areas, or approximately 81 percent, experienced population gains.
  • In terms of racial make-up, White alone remained the most prevalent race in the U.S., at 204.3 million. The group Two or More Races increased significantly, from just 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020.  The population Asian alone or in combination comprises 24 million individuals in the U.S., representing an approximately 38.6 percent increase since 2010.  The population classified as Hispanic or Latino increased 23 percent since 2010, and now comprises 62.1 million individuals.

A mapping feature operated by the U.S. Census Bureau will show you changes in population, race, housing, and group quarters at the state, county, or census tract level (by zooming in).  This map is available at

If you reside in or near a town or city in the West Piedmont Region and would like to walk or bike to work or for an essential trip such as to go shopping, visit the doctor, etc., don’t forget to log your trips into the RIDE Solutions app to earn points toward discounts on shopping, services, dining, activities, or for an opportunity to enter a raffle and win a prize such as a gift card.  If you telework, use transit, or carpool, you can earn points toward these rewards as well!  Just download the FREE app today, available at!