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Population Projections Prove Precise

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Predicting population growth is a tricky game.  But one Virginia institution has become the go-to source for state population predictions.

When the Census Bureau stopped making state-level population projections in 2005, a lot of people were wondering where they were going to get those numbers.  "There are different federal agencies, different state governments, businesses, nonprofit agencies. They rely on these projections for their planning, their research purposes," says Shonel Sen at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA.

The Weldon Cooper Center stepped into the breach and started making their own state-level population projections. Since that time, their crystal ball has been crystal clear. The most recent Census data shows the Weldon Cooper Center projections ranged from 3.4 percent off in Idaho to only 0.06 percent off in Kansas. Here in Virginia, the prediction was only 0.27 percent off.

"What we have found is that sometimes a simpler research model works just as well as a very complicated methodology. So simplicity is not always a negative. Sometimes it does give us the results you want," according to Sen.

Here's the secret sauce, determine past trends and extrapolate them into the future. Oh, and make sure to keep updating with the most recent numbers from the Census bureau as they're available.

***Editor's Note: The University of Virginia is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.