It may not be a “boom,” the 1.1 percent population growth rate in North Carolina between 2015 and 2016, but it’s good enough to rank the state 12th in the country for growth, and to allow Tar Heelia to retain its position as the 9th largest state in the country.
That’s important beyond status. Because of a strong growth rate last year, the state is likely to be awarded a 14th congressional seat after the 2020 Census. More influence in Congress will likely translate into more benefits, more attention from the power-brokers on Capitol Hill. It has the additional benefit of offering a chance for a prominent political role to a new face — and both political parties in the state could use just such a person.
It is no mystery why North Carolina has become a destination for people from throughout the country. The good weather, resort areas, variety of living choices from small towns to big cities, and economic activity in the high-tech sector make it an appealing place for young people on the way up in their careers, for people raising families and and for those looking for comfortable retirement. And a variety of universities draw younger people who may choose to settle in the state.
North Carolina is getting bigger, but that alone won’t make it better. Accommodating more people requires careful, long-range planning and investment in infrastructure and schools. We’re seeing that in the Triangle, but at the state level North Carolina risks being overwhelmed by its growth.