By on 2.5.21 in NC in Focus

We recently worked with the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the governments of the Towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough, and Orange County to streamline existing processes for acquiring, updating, and maintaining the data they use for their community reports and presentations.

As part of that work, we’ve released a series of reports looking at demographic and economic trends in Orange County, NC. Here are some highlights from Carolina Demography’s report on population change and Census 2020 response in Orange County (published May 15, 2020). You can read the full report here.

Orange County approaching 2000s growth

  • Orange County grew by 11.1% between 2010 and 2019. This is a nearly two percentage point increase in total growth from last year (9.2%); if these growth trends continued through early 2020, the growth rate over the decade may be close to the total growth observed in 2000.
  • Orange County has added 14,783 residents since 2010, less than 1K below the numeric population growth of the 2000s (15,574).

Hillsborough is the fastest-growing municipality in Orange County

  • As of 2018 – the latest year of data – Hillsborough’s growth rate was 9.5%. This was 0.6 percentage points greater than Carrboro and 2.9 percentage points above Chapel Hill.
  • While numeric growth in Hillsborough was smallest of the three municipalities (+630 residents added), it is the only municipality to likely meet or exceed its 2000 numeric growth (+641).

Gap in growth rate widens between Orange County and North Carolina

  • As of 2019, Orange County’s growth rate (11.1%) is 1.1 percentage points greater than the state.
  • Last year, this gap was 0.3 percentage points: 9.2% in Orange County vs. 8.9% statewide.
  • Among the core Triangle counties, Orange County has grown the slowest since 2010: Wake County has grown more than twice as quickly as Orange (23.4%) while Durham County’s growth rate is 8.0 percentage points higher than Orange’s.

Majority of Orange County’s population growth taking place in 65+ category

  • Orange County grew by 12,325 residents from 2010-2018, while its 65+ age group grew by 7,575 residents (primarily from aging as well as some in-migration). This means 61.5% of Orange County’s growth was from the population 65+.
  • Among peer counties, Orange County is second only to Chatham County in the share of county growth driven by its 65+ age group (64.5%). The share of growth in this age group is substantially higher than the state (53.7%).
  • Chatham’s growth in this age group is driven more by retiree migration than in Orange County. However, the high share of county growth driven by the population 65+ may suggest that Orange County is an appealing place for individuals to stay after they retire.

Over 1 in 4 Orange County residents is now Black, Hispanic, or Asian

  • All racial/ethnic groups have grown in absolute numbers since 1990, though some groups—namely, Hispanic and Asian—have grown faster than others, causing significant shifts in the county population composition.
  • The share of Orange County’s population that is White or Black has decreased from 1990 to 2018: -11 percentage points and -5 percentage points, respectively. Meanwhile, the share of Hispanic and Asian residents has increased: +8 and +5 percentage points, respectively.
  • Together, Asian and Hispanic residents formed a larger share of the population in 2018 than Black residents alone: 17% vs. 11%.

If you are interested in reports like these for your county, please email us at to discuss further!

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