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NC Population Boom Presents Challenge to Cities, State

Systems such as the Lynx Blue Line light rail in Charlotte are transportation options for North Carolina as the population increases. (James Willamor/flickr)
Systems such as the Lynx Blue Line light rail in Charlotte are transportation options for North Carolina as the population increases. (James Willamor/flickr)
March 26, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – If you feel like there are more people living in your town, you're likely not imagining it. Two-thirds of the state saw growth between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Estimates show that as of last July, 10.3 million people call the state home, making it the ninth most populous in the country.

State demographer Michael Cline says while the growth is welcome, it presents a challenge to municipalities.

"The challenge is two-fold," he says. "In the larger urban areas, larger metropolitan areas, the challenge is trying to meet the needs of transportation and water and other infrastructure for a rapidly growing population, but at the same time also trying to meet the needs of those areas that are growing much more slowly or even declining."

Much of the growth was concentrated in Raleigh, the Triad, Charlotte and Wilmington. North Carolina is one of 23 states in the country that saw more people move in versus left, and ranks third in the country for net growth, behind Florida and Texas.

Cline says the state is seeing welcome growth after a decline during the Great Recession.

"There's certainly a lot of people moving into the state overall," he adds. "The good news is that there are more counties gaining population in this last year than if we compare it to the previous part of this decade."

Among the smaller micropolitan areas, Brunswick, Moore and Hartnett counties have seen the most growth. Population growth does place a demand on infrastructures - such as water, roads, energy and schools. In its most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the state a C for its existing infrastructure.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC