By Bill Cresenzo
For the first time since 1970, Norfolk saw its population increase during the past 10 years, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Its southern neighbor Suffolk saw its population jump more than 30 percent, while Hampton and Portsmouth saw losses.
Norfolk's population increased to 242, 803, up from 237,764.
Suffolk's population increased about 33 percent, from 63,677 to 84,585.
Virginia Beach's population was up to 437,994 from 425,251.
Portsmouth's population fell to 95,435 from 100,665, while Hampton's population fell to 137,436 from 146,437.
"Congratulations to the city of Norfolk - the bleeding has stopped," said Tom Chapman, an assistant professor of geography at Old Dominion University. "It's been several decades that the city's been losing population.
"Although this is very good news, it doesn't necessarily justify a parade and free trips to Disney World - 3.6 percent is good, but it's not [a reason] to say, 'Hallelujah, we're coming back.'"
He cited a mistake the census bureau made that erroneously showed that a couple of blocks in West Ghent saw a population increase of 8,300 percent.
"It's not unusual for the census bureau to make a mistake, but this is a pretty big mistake," he said.
However, the mistake isn't so big that it should change the population count, he said.
"Suffolk was the big winner," Chapman said. "They had big population gains, which isn't a surprise."
The challenge now, Chapman said, will be the redrawing of legislative districts in Suffolk.
"The new legislative districts are probably going to be the most confusing and complex districts in Hampton Roads to redraw," he said. "I would expect the districts to change more in Suffolk than anywhere else in Hampton Roads." nib