Wake County

Raleigh-Cary metro area leads NC in growth

Alejandro Garcia, left, and fellow builders construct a home on Massey Branch Drive in Rolesville in October 2015. The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area was the fastest growing in the state in the year ending last June 30, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Alejandro Garcia, left, and fellow builders construct a home on Massey Branch Drive in Rolesville in October 2015. The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area was the fastest growing in the state in the year ending last June 30, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. rwillett@newsobserver.com

The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area remains one of the fastest growing in the country, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

More than 1.3 million people live in the Raleigh-Cary metro area, defined as Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties, up 2.5 percent in the year ending last June 30. The Raleigh metro area was the 14th fastest growing in the country and the fastest growing in North Carolina, followed by Charlotte, which grew 2 percent during that time.

Despite their close proximity, Durham and Raleigh have been considered separate metro areas by the Census Bureau since 2003, even as places like San Francisco-Oakland and New York-Newark are considered single metro areas. The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area grew 1.5 percent in the year ending June 30, to about 560,000 people.

The census bureau’s numbers continue to show the uneven growth within North Carolina. From 2010 to 2016, 52 of the state’s 100 counties added population, led by Wake and Mecklenburg. The fastest-growing county during that time was Brunswick, at the coast, which grew an estimated 18.2 percent.

But 48 counties have lost population since the 2010 census, most in rural areas. The northeastern part of the state has suffered the largest losses, led by Northampton at an estimated 9.5 percent. Altogether, 11 North Carolina counties have lost 5 percent or more of their population since 2010, all but one of them north and east of Rocky Mount.

Other findings from the census report:

▪ Four Triangle counties are among the state’s fastest growing since 2010, led by Wake at 16.2 percent and followed by Chatham at 13.8 percent, Durham at 13.4 percent and Johnston at 13.3 percent.

▪ Mecklenburg County remained the most populous in North Carolina at an estimated 1,054,835 residents last July 1. Wake was a close second at 1,046,791.

▪ Harnett County, which is not part of the Raleigh metro area, has been the fourth fastest-growing county in the state since 2010, at 14.1 percent. Nearly 131,000 people lived in Harnett last summer.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

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