By on 12.20.18 in Carolina Demographics

North Carolina’s population grew to an estimated 10.4 million people as of July 1, 2018, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

From July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, the state’s population increased by nearly 113,000 individuals. This marks the third consecutive year that the state population has grown by more than 100,000 in a single year. Among the states, North Carolina had the 5th largest numeric increase since 2017. Only Texas (379K), Florida (323K), California (158K), and Arizona (123K) gained more residents over the past year.

With a growth rate of 1.1% since 2017, North Carolina continues to grow faster than the national average (0.6%) and was the 10th fastest-growing state. The top five fastest-growing states in the last year were:

  • Nevada: 2.1%
  • Idaho: 2.1%
  • Utah: 1.9%
  • Arizona: 1.7%
  • Florida: 1.5%

While North Carolina has maintained steady growth since 2010, population losses are increasingly common across the nation. There were nine states with estimated population losses between 2017 and 2018. New York (-48.5K) and Illinois (-45.1K) had the largest estimated losses, followed by West Virginia (-11.2K), Louisiana (-10.8K), and Hawaii (-3.7K). West Virginia lost the largest percentage of its population (-0.6%), followed by Illinois (-0.4%) and Alaska (-0.4%).

Migration is the engine of state growth

Since 2010, North Carolina’s population has grown by nearly 850,000 residents, an increase of 8.9%. Two-thirds of this growth was due to net in-migration. The share of state growth from net migration is increasing as growth from natural increase (births minus deaths) steadily declines due to lower fertility and more deaths from population aging.

In the most recent year, North Carolina received an estimated 87,000 net in-migrants (77% of total population growth). This was the fourth largest net in-migration of any state; only Florida (309K), Texas (188K), and Arizona (98K) had more growth from net migration last year.

Most of these in-migrants were domestic migrants (67K), meaning that they moved to North Carolina from other states. According to detailed data in the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS), North Carolina had the largest net in-migration from New York, New Jersey, and California, with net gains of over 10,000 residents from each state.

The state receives relatively fewer international migrants (this includes immigrants and citizens returning to the U.S. from abroad, such as returning military personnel). From 2017-18, North Carolina received an estimated 20,000 net in-migrants from other countries. The largest in-flows were from India, China, and Mexico, according to the 2017 ACS.

North Carolina on track to surpass 10.6 million by 2020

These new estimates are consistent with the latest population projections from the State Demographer that project that North Carolina will have more than 10.6 million residents by 2020.

Projections based on current estimates are consistent with the Congressional reapportionment shifts predicted last year. North Carolina remains on track to pick up a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, provided current population trends continue.


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