Wake’s path to 1 million
A century ago, in 1910, Wake County had a total population of 63,229. Out of 2,964 counties nationwide, Wake was the 196th most populous. Among North Carolina counties, Wake’s population was second only to Mecklenburg’s population of 67,031.
During the first half of the twentieth century, Wake’s population grew steadily, but other counties within the state grew faster. Buoyed by the strength of the manufacturing industry in Greensboro, Guilford County grew to be the most populous county in North Carolina in 1930 and 1940. Mecklenburg was the second most populous during this time and Forsyth County, home to Winston-Salem, was the third. Wake held steady in fourth place, only briefly falling to 5th in 1930 when Buncombe County’s population surpassed it.
The establishment of Research Triangle Park in neighboring Durham County in 1959 catalyzed new growth in Wake County. Wake grew from the fourth most populous county in the state in 1960 to the second most populous in 1990, a spot it has since maintained.
As of July 1, 2015, Wake County had a population of 1,024,198, the 42nd largest county population in the country out of 3,142 counties. Wake County’s population has grown by more than 123,000 persons since 2010, a growth rate of 2.5% annually.
Wake is projected to continue to experience steady growth in the coming decades. Projections from the Office of State Budget and Management have Wake hitting 1.3 million residents by 2030, more than double the county’s 2000 population.