North Carolina

Census: Suburban Triangle towns see population boom

Traffic stands still on the southbound side of Louisburg Road in Rolesville as commuters make their way towards Raleigh on in December 2014. Rolesville was the fastest growing North Carolina municipality between 2010 and 2016, growing 82 percent to nearly 7,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Traffic stands still on the southbound side of Louisburg Road in Rolesville as commuters make their way towards Raleigh on in December 2014. Rolesville was the fastest growing North Carolina municipality between 2010 and 2016, growing 82 percent to nearly 7,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. File photo

Suburban towns in Wake County were among the fastest-growing North Carolina municipalities over the last six years, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Triangle has been spreading out for years as its universities and a strong local economy draw people to the region. Six of the state’s 10 fastest-growing towns since 2010 were former railroad towns and crossroad communities in Wake: Rolesville, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wake Forest, Morrisville and Knightdale.

Rolesville, the county’s smallest town, led the pack, growing 82 percent since 2010 to an estimated 6,962 as of last July 1, according to the Census Bureau estimates released Thursday. Populations of the remaining five towns grew by at least 28 percent during that time.

The expansion of the Triangle has begun to show up in small towns on the fringe of the region. Stem, in southern Granville County north of Durham, was officially the state’s fastest-growing town in the year ending last June 30, growing 20 percent to 565 residents. Swepsonville, near Graham in Alamance County, was the fourth fastest-growing, at 11 percent, to 1,335 people.

Here are other findings from the census report:

▪ Charlotte grew by 15,656 residents in the year ending last June, more than all but 10 other cities in the country during that time. The city grew by 14 percent since 2010, to 842,051, making it by far North Carolina’s largest city.

▪ Raleigh’s population grew by 13 percent between 2010 and 2016, to 458,880. During that time, Cary’s population grew 18.5 percent to 162,320, while Durham’s population grew 14.7 percent to 263,016. Durham remained the state’s fourth-largest city and Cary the seventh.

▪ Chapel Hill and Hillsborough saw the least amount of population growth among Triangle towns from 2010 to 2016, at 3.1 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.

▪ Concord, just north of Charlotte, passed Asheville to become North Carolina’s 11th largest city. Last July 1, Concord had 89,891 residents, compared with 89,121 in Asheville.

The growth in North Carolina’s cities reflected a national trend.

“Overall, cities in the South continue to grow at a faster rate than any other U.S. region,” Amel Toukabri, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s population division, said in a statement. “Since the 2010 Census, the population in large Southern cities grew by an average of 9.4 percent. In comparison, cities in the West grew 7.3 percent, while cities in the Northeast and Midwest had much lower growth rates at 1.8 percent and 3 percent respectively.”

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon

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