By on 8.16.21 in Census 2020

Between 2010 and 2020, North Carolina’s population grew by 903,905 individuals, an increase of 9.5%, faster than the national growth rate of 7.3%. Over that same period, North Carolina’s:

  • child population grew by 2,654, an increase of 0.1%
  • adult population grew by 901,251, an increase of 12.4%

Nationally, the child population shrank by 1.1 million (-1.4%) and the adult population grew by 23.8 million (+10.1%). In Georgia, a state with similar overall population size and growth rate to North Carolina, the child population had a net increase of just 82 individuals between the 2010 and 2020 censuses.

Note: A declining child population does not mean that children are not being born; rather, it means that the number of children born in any year may be lower than the number of 17-year-olds turning 18 and the net migration of families with children is either insufficient to counterbalance these natural changes or is a compounding factor.

Where did the child population grow the most?

The child population increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia. The states with the largest numeric increases in the child population between 2010 and 2020 were Texas (413K), Florida (197K), Washington (99K), Utah (77K), and Colorado (39K). The child population grew the fastest in North Dakota (22%), followed by the District of Columbia (13%), Utah (9%), Idaho (8%), and South Dakota (7%).

Which states had the largest decreases in the child population?

The child population declined in 27 states. The states with the largest numeric decreases in the child population between 2010 and 2020 were California (-584K), Illinois (-316K), New York (-212K), Michigan (-181K), and Pennsylvania (-143K). The states with the largest percent declines in the child population were New Hampshire (-10.6%), Illinois (-10.1%), Connecticut (-9.8%), Mississippi (-9.5%), and Vermont (-8.2%).

How does this look in North Carolina’s counties?

While 51 North Carolina counties had fewer residents in 2020 than in the 2010 census, nearly three in every four counties (74) had fewer children in 2020 than in 2010. Even some counties with strong growth over the decade, such as Brunswick, Lincoln, and Forsyth, had smaller child populations in 2020, though these decreases were relatively small. The counties with the largest declines in the number of children were:

  • Robeson (-7,852)
  • Cumberland (-5,294)
  • Wayne (-3,653)
  • Craven (-3,266)
  • Columbus (-3,225)

The counties with the largest percentage decrease in the child population between 2010 and 2020 were:

  • Northampton (-33%)
  • Bertie (-32%)
  • Anson (-29%)
  • Washington (-29%)
  • Gates (-26%)

Wake County had the largest increase in the number of children (35K), followed by Mecklenburg (22K), Cabarrus (9.5K), Johnston (8.9K), and Durham (4.9K). The largest percentage increase in the child population over the decade was in Cabarrus (19.4%) and Johnston (19%), followed by Wake (14.8%), Pender (12.4%), and Moore (12.4%).


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