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Growth in the Triangle continues as the Raleigh metropolitan area — with nearly 1.4 million people in Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties — ranked 10th nationally in percentage growth from 2010 to 2018 with 20.5%.
The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates Thursday for all 3,142 U.S. counties and 390 metropolitan statistical areas as of July 1, 2018. Raleigh’s growth ranked it just behind Orlando, Florida.
Six N.C. metropolitan areas increased in population by at least 10 percent from 2010 to 2018:
▪ The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro (Mecklenburg and Gaston counties and York County, SC), population 2.56 million, ranked 31st nationally with 15.9% growth.
▪ The Wilmington metro area (New Hanover and Pender counties) grew 15.5% and ranked 36th.
▪ The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area (Durham, Orange, Chatham and Person), now with 575,000 people, ranked 47th with 13.6% growth.
▪ Jacksonville (Onslow), ranked 66th, grew 11.2%.
▪ Burlington (Alamance), ranked 81st, grew 10.1%.
Growing county: The North Carolina county with the largest gain from 2017 to 2018 was Brunswick, with a 4.6% increase in population, up to 136,744 people. It also ranked fourth nationally in percentage growth from 2017 to 2018 among counties with 20,000 or greater population. The county that’s home to popular beach towns like Oak Island, Southport and Ocean Isle Beach also ranked first in growth this decade among NC counties at 27%.
Shrinking counties: Declines in population continued in more rural counties like Edgecombe (-1.4%), Halifax (-1.4%) and Washington (-1.3%) in the northeastern part of the state. Those three counties have averaged an 8% decline in population this decade. Scotland, Bladen and Columbus counties in the southeastern part of the state saw declines of 1%, 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively. Overall, 28 N.C. counties lost population from 2017 to 2018. Since 2010, 43 counties have lost population.
Biggest counties: About 1,600 people separated the top two most populous N.C. counties. Mecklenburg County held the top spot with 1,093,901 people, followed by Wake with 1,092,305. Guilford came in third with 533,670 people. The only change in the top 10 most populous counties from 2010 to 2018 was Union moving up from tenth to eighth and Gaston moving down from eighth to tenth.
Nationally, 47% of counties have gained population this decade, with much of that growth occurring in the South and West.
In April 2020 the Census Bureau will begin its decennial process of counting every person living in the U.S. in order to determine representation from each state to the U.S. House of Representatives and to decide how and where federal dollars are spent.
Go to nando.com/53y to see county estimates by race and age and estimates for cities and towns.