Roanoke is a city located in Virginia. With a 2020 population of 99,648, it is the 8th largest city in Virginia and the 319th largest city in the United States. Roanoke is currently declining at a rate of -0.14% annually but its population has increased by 2.70% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 97,032 in 2010. Roanoke reached it's highest population of 100,220 in 1980. Spanning over 43 miles, Roanoke has a population density of 2,344 people per square mile.
The average household income in Roanoke is $59,205 with a poverty rate of 20.52%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $799 per month, and the median house value is $133,200. The median age in Roanoke is 38.7 years, 36.8 years for males, and 40.5 years for females. For every 100 females there are 92.1 males.
Roanoke is an independent city located in the Roanoke Valley. Roanoke serves as a center of commercial activity and culture throughout the region.
Roanoke Population Statistics
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 poll, indicating that efforts made to prevent “brain drain” and other initiatives to transform the city may be successful.
Roanoke was established as a town in 1852. At that time, the town 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 the 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.