By on 10.24.19 in NC in Focus

As in previous years, the municipalities with the fastest and/or largest single-year of growth from 2017 to 2018 tended to cluster around North Carolina’s largest metro areas. This year, however, growth was not nearly as dominant in the Charlotte and Triangle metropolitan areas, and municipalities around Wilmington had greater representation.

Last year, seven of the top ten fastest-growing municipalities from 2016 to 2017 were located in the Triangle metro—six in Wake County and one in Johnston County. This number dropped to five of the top ten municipalities this year, and several fastest-growing places from last year no longer placed among the top ten (Rolesville, Fuquay-Varina, and Morrisville).

Meanwhile, Wilmington suburbs held the #1 and #2 spots for population growth for the first time in three years: Navassa (12% growth) and Leland (11%) in Brunswick County. While overall gains were relatively small for Navassa (+226 new residents), they were significant in Leland (+2,138 new residents). This allowed it to place seventh among the top-ten municipalities in single-year numeric growth, as well.

top 10 percent-growth municipalities

Additionally, population growth tended to be smaller for many of North Carolina’s largest municipalities compared to last year’s estimates:

  • Charlotte added 2,400 fewer residents: 13,151 in 2018 vs. 15,551 in 2017
  • Raleigh down nearly 2,000: 3,774 in 2018 vs. 5,710 in 2017
  • Greensboro down nearly 700 residents: 2,513 in 2018 vs. 3,204 in 2017
  • Winston-Salem down nearly 850 residents: 1,955 in 2018 vs. 2,800 in 2017

A notable exception to this trend, however, is Durham, which added just over 100 more residents in 2018 than the previous year. This small uptick in numeric growth allowed it to push Raleigh out of the #2 spot.


Top 10 numeric-growth in NC municipalities

While single-year estimates are prone to volatility, the pattern is clear: North Carolina’s largest metropolitan areas drive population growth in the state. Particular attention should be paid to municipalities located on the periphery of large cities: both Apex in Wake County and Leland in Brunswick County had some of the largest and fastest growth from 2017 to 2018.



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