The 2020 Census data confirmed what has long been known about the Triangle: the area is booming and shows no signs of slowing down.
A report from Carolina Demography, a data analysis group whose population work is designed to inform decision-making for North Carolina policy, says North Carolina has steadily grown by more than 100,000 new residents for four years in a row. That increase put North Carolina as the 4th largest state to increase its population since 2018, just behind Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
Furthermore, since 2010, North Carolina’s population grew by 952,000 residents, or nearly 10 percent, which is the 6th largest increase in state size. The group also said North Carolina was the 15th fastest-growing state. Compare that to the rest of the census data, which shows the country’s total growth of 7.1 percent as lower than any previous decade—even the Great Depression years.
Where are these people coming from? The data shows 67 percent of the state’s growth was due to people moving to North Carolina from other states, not from people having children. This in-migration largely came from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. While 14,000 migrants from countries like Japan, India, and Mexico added some population, most are U.S. residents.
The Census data also shows that of the more than 705,000 new residents, most of them moved to the Charlotte or Triangle area, together accounting for 39 percent of the state’s population shift. Wake County grew by more than 25 percent, Johnston County grew by nearly 28 percent, and Durham County grew by more than 21 percent. In fact, Wake County was specifically responsible for most of the Triangle’s growth at 210,709 new residents. Mecklenburg County saw the second largest population growth at 190,692.
While the city of Raleigh saw an increase of more than 70,000 people and Durham accounted for more than 57,000 new residents, many of the Triangle’s new residents chose smaller communities in the region to call their home, particularly those close to the Research Triangle Park. Apex nearly doubled its population from 37,000 in 2010 to 64,000 in 2020 while Cary grew by nearly 40,000 people within that time frame. Rolesville, meanwhile, more than doubled from 3,700 in 2010 to nearly 9,000 in 2020. Wake Forest shifted from over 30,000 in 2010 to more than 47,000 in 2020.
As tech companies like Apple and Google establish a foothold in the Triangle, the area’s population will continue to grow significantly as thousands of new jobs are brought to the region.
Finally, one of the biggest notes to emerge from the 2020 Census is the fact North Carolina gained an additional seat in the House of Representatives. This shift will occur in time for the 2022 midterm elections.
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