FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Newly released census figures show Virginia continued its trend toward a top-heavy state.

The data released Thursday show that northern Virginia again fueled the state’s population growth. As a whole, the state saw its population increase by 8 percent in the last decade, to 8.6 million.

That growth is slightly ahead of the national average. Most of the growth occurred in northern Virginia — Prince William and Loudoun counties continue to be two of the fastest-growing counties in the state.

The new data will be used to draw new legislative maps, and the northern Virginia growth should benefit Democrats, who have won the region by big margins recently.

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