RALEIGH — The Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville and counties along the coast and near Fort Bragg continue to lead the state in population growth, while many rural counties are still losing population, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Wake, Durham and Harnett counties were among eight counties in the state that grew by more than 2 percent in the year ending last July, the Census Bureau said Thursday. The fastest-growing county was Brunswick on the southeastern coast, which grew by 2.8 percent.
By contrast, 43 counties lost population during that year, led by Northampton and Gates, which each shrunk by more than 2 percent, according to census estimates. Population in an additional seven counties remained virtually unchanged.
The latest estimates reflect a pattern of population change since the 2010 census. Of the states 100 counties, 49 have lost population since then, in contrast to the previous decade when the number of residents declined in only seven counties.
The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area composed of Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties was the 11th fastest-growing in the nation since the 2010 census, according to the Census Bureau. An estimated 1,214,516 people lived in the three-county area last July 1, up nearly 7 percent since 2010.
The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area grew about 5.2 percent during that time, to an estimated 534,578, making it the 31st fastest-growing metro area in the nation.
Altogether, 1.75 million people now live in the combined Raleigh-Durham metro area. In December, the Census Bureau estimated that North Carolina had 9,848,060 residents last July and was on a pace to pass Michigan this year to become the countrys ninth-largest state.
Mecklenburg was the states most populous county, with 990,977 residents (Wake was second, with 974,289), while Tyrrell County had the fewest residents, 4,109.
The Dunn micropolitan area, which consists wholly of Harnett County, added more residents than any other micro area in the nation, growing by 2,855 people in the year ending last July. The only other two micro areas gaining at least 2,500 people over the period were Williston and Minot, in the oil fields of North Dakota.