Roanoke Population 2018

Roanoke is a city located in the state of Virginia. It is an independent city located in the Roanoke Valley. Roanoke has an estimated population of 99,660 people, making it the largest by population in Southwest Virginia. Roanoke serves as a center of commercial activity and culture throughout the region.

Roanoke History

Roanoke was first established as a town in 1852. At that time, it was called Big Lick. The name came because of the outcrop of sale near the Roanoke River that attracted wildlife. The name was changed in 1882 to Roanoke, and in 1884, it was incorporated as a city.

Through its early history, the city grew quite quickly. It was designated as a stop along the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad during the mid-19th century and later, the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. The city saw very prosperous times in the year ahead. In particular, the development of coalfields and the manufacturing of steam locomotives led to growth of the economy and the population. Today, the coal from Roanoke is used in plants and mills around the world.

Manufacturers in the early 20th century were attracted to Roanoke because of its access to the railroad. However, later in the century, the closing of plants and the conversion of the railroad to diesel resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, the city’s growth slowed significantly, falling below national and state averages. This is primarily due to underemployment and many residents being unable to find satisfactory employment—or “brain drain.” The city has launched initiatives to address this problem, including the creation of a job seeker database and career fairs.

Despite these struggles, Roanoke continues to be a hub of retail and economy within the region. It is home to many businesses and headquarters, including Advance Auto Parts and Carillion Health Center. The city’s surrounding suburbs continue to grow and according to recent estimates and the last census, the city of Roanoke’s population is once again on the rise.

Roanoke Demographics

Roanoke has over 99,000 residents. The city has an area of 43 square miles, with a population density of 2,300 people per square mile. The city is made up of just 0.3 square miles of water.

The city’s population is primarily white, making up nearly 70% of the total population. Over 26% is black, 1.15% is Asian, and 1.78% are mixed race. Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and other races each make up less than 1% of the total population. Approximately 1.5% of the population is of Hispanic or Latino origin.

The 25 to 44 age group is the largest in Roanoke and makes up over 30% of the population. Over 22% of the population is under age 18, while 16.4% are at least 65 years old. There are more female residents than males, with 84.3 men for every 100 women. Close to 16% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. Roanoke’s top employer is Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, which employs more than 1,000 people. Other top employers including Roanoke City Public Schools, the City of Roanoke, and Carilion Professional Service, each of which employ at least 1,000 people.

Roanoke Population Growth

Roanoke saw significant population growth throughout history, primarily due to annexation. Between 1880 and 1890, the population jumped by over 2,000%. The city reached over 50,000 residents in 1950 and doubled that number in 1980. This was when the population peaked before it dropped by 3.8% at the time of the 1990 census. The population continued to fall through 2000 before increasing again at the 2010 census. Current estimates show that the population has risen by 2.7% since the last census, indicating that efforts made to prevent “brain drain” and other initiatives to transform the city may be successful.

Year Population Growth Growth Rate

Roanoke Race Data

Race Population Percentage
Black or African American27,41427.51%
Two or More Races3,7873.80%
Some Other Race1,4821.49%
American Indian and Alaska Native1660.17%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander1200.12%

Population Pyramid

0k0k0k0k0k Male Population0k0k0k0k0k Female Population8580757065605550454035302520151050

Roanoke Housing Indicators

Indicator Value
Median Number of Rooms (per House)
Houses Without Mortgage
Houses With Mortgage
Vacancy Rate
Median Rent
Median Home Value
Renter-Occupied Units
Owner-Occupied Units
Total Housing Units

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Roanoke for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 5.3% and the labor force participation rate is 63.9%.

Roanoke Family/Household Indicators

Indicator Value
Unmarried Partner Households (Same Sex)
Unmarried Partner Households (Opposite Sex)
Non Family Households
Female Householder (no husband) Families
Male Householder (no wife) Families
Married Couple Families
Average Family Size
Average Household Size