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by Alfred W. Stuart
Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2010.
Reprinted with permission from The North Carolina Atlas Revisited. Managing editor: Alfred W. Stuart.

See also: Demography

Population- Part 2: Change

Part 2: Change

Population Trends - Populous countiesUS Census population estimates for 2009 indicate that North Carolina continues to be one of the fastest growing US states. Between the 2000 Census and July 1, 2009 the state's population grew by 16.5%, compared with the US growth rate of 8.1% (Table). As a result, the state's share of the national total rose from 2.77% to 3.06% during that period. The North Carolina total population of 9,380,884 in 2009 was enough to rank it as the 10th largest in the US, passing New Jersey in population between 2000 and 2009.

The state's vigorous growth was led by its largest urban counties. The 10 most populous, all parts of metro areas, grew from a total of 3,257,372 in 2000 to 4,069,906 in 2009, thereby increasing their share of the statewide total from 40.5% to 43.3%. This strong growth was led by the state's two largest counties, Mecklenburg and Wake. These two counties together saw their collective population increase by 36.8%, more than double the statewide rate. This led to their share of the statewide total rising from 16.4% to 19.3%.

By contrast , 17 of the smaller, mostly rural counties in eastern North Carolina, lost population during the nine-year period. Thus, the state's vigorous growth is being led by its larger urban counties.

Changes since 1790

North Carolina continues its vigorous growth, as shown by estimates prepared by the US Census Bureau (Figure 1). Total population reached an estimated total of over 8.7 million by July 1, 2005, a gain of 633,929 since the last census was taken in 2000. The 2000-2005 gain was the sixth largest among all US states and most of the other five states with greater increases had larger populations to begin with, including California, Florida and Texas. As a result of this growth, the state's share of the national total continued to rise, as noted in the North Carolina Atlas, rising from 2.67 percent of the national total in 1990 to 2.93 percent in 2005.

Figure 1: NC Population Change, 1790-2005

Keep reading >> Population- Part 3: Net Migration Keep reading