Whites are driving the District's population surge, but it's the region's minorities who are responsible for the boom in the suburbs.

"It's kind of this inside-out situation," said Lisa Sturtevant, assistant research professor at George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis.

In nearly all the counties surrounding the District, whites consistently ranked as the slowest-growing population -- if it grew at all -- in the 15 months following the April 2010 Census Bureau data collection.

Minorities driving 'burbs
 Growth from 4/2010 - 7/2011
 WhitesBlacksHispanicAsianTotal county growth/population
Fairfax0.3%5.2%3.2%2.7%1.8% / 1,100,692
Arlington3.6%6.5%4.5%3.2%4.0% /216,004
Loudoun2.6%9.6%5.9%6.2%4.2% / 325,405
Prince William2.9%5.3%5.3%6.3%4.2% / 419,006
Montgomery0.1%3.1%4.5%2.8%1.9% / 989,794
Prince George's2.4%-0.1%2.7%2.4%0.9% / 871,233
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

According to new census data released Thursday, the white population remained relatively flat in Montgomery and Fairfax counties while the population in both jurisdictions grew by nearly 2 percent. In other surrounding counties, whites contributed more to growth, but in all cases, a minority group led the charge.

The growth spurt in the region's suburbs began in the 1980s and '90s because of immigration, according to experts. But the story of the 2000s has been about their kids, said Sturtevant.

"Our growth in the minority population is not due to immigration," she said. "Instead it's due to fact that the ethnic population, especially Hispanics, have higher fertility rates ... and they're younger than whites. This shift is the second generation."

- Liz Farmer