Only 83 of the nation’s 3,142 counties had a population of 750,000 or more in 2014. Two of these counties—Mecklenburg (Charlotte) and Wake (Raleigh)—were in North Carolina.
Among these larger counties, population growth between the 2010 Census and the July 1, 2014 population estimates ranged from a loss of nearly 56,000 residents in Wayne County, MI (home to Detroit) to a gain of more than 348,000 new residents in Harris County, TX (Houston). With a numeric increase of 92,873, Mecklenburg had the 21st largest absolute growth among the counties with a population of 750,000 or more. Wake County had the 20th largest numeric increase, gaining 97,673 between 2010 and 2014.
On average, these 83 counties grew by 4.7% between 2010 and 2014. Wayne County had the lowest growth rate (-3.1%) while Denton County, TX, a suburban county outside of Dallas, had the highest growth rate, 13.7%. With growth rates of 10.1% for Mecklenburg and 10.8% for Wake, North Carolina’s largest counties were the 5th and 4th fastest growing large counties in the nation, respectively. The only counties with populations of 750,000 or more that grew faster were all in Texas: Denton, Collin at 13.2% (another Dallas suburb), and Travis at 12.4% (home to Austin).
Only 38 of the 83 most populous counties have grown by 4.7% or more since 2010. More than half of these fast-growing, populous counties are in three states: Texas (8), California (7), and Florida (5). Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington each have two counties that meet this criteria; Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia each have one.
In both Wake and Mecklenburg, net migration—more people moving in than moving away—has played a larger than average role in total population growth. Across the 38 fastest growing, populous counties, net migration contributed to an average of 53% of county growth. In Wake, net migration accounted for 66% of the county’s growth between 2010 and 2014, the 10th highest level. In Mecklenburg, net migration comprised 61% of county growth, the 14th highest level among the 38 comparison counties.
Between 2010 and 2014, these 38 large, fast-growing counties received nearly 1.4 million international migrants and more than 700,000 domestic migrants. International migration accounted for the majority of net migration across these counties (66%), but not in Mecklenburg and Wake.
International migrants made up only 25% of all net migrants to Wake and 33% of all net migrants to Mecklenburg. Domestic migrants—individuals moving from other parts of the state or country—accounted for the majority of net migration into these two North Carolina counties. This is not to say, however, that these migrants were all U.S.-born. These individuals may be foreign-born, but are relocating to North Carolina from another U.S. county, not directly from abroad.
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