Featured projects


Using datasets and primary research, we provide accessible and customizable insights in whatever format makes the most sense for your team. Learn more about our work and explore stories of how our clients use our tools and expertise to inform their decisions.

Visualizing NC’s hard-to-count communities

In 2010, just over three of every four North Carolina households mailed back their census forms (76%), a seven percentage point increase in mail participation compared to 2000 (69%). Higher participation rates reduce the overall costs of conducting the census. And, when individuals self-respond, the data is more accurate. An inaccurate count paints a distorted picture of the make-up of our communities and will result in a misallocation of resources for North Carolina.  To help North Carolina achieve a complete and accurate census count, Carolina Demography worked with the NC Counts Coalition to create a map that identifies communities across the state…

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Creating easy-to-use educational data

In 2018, the John M. Belk Endowment asked Carolina Demography to examine North Carolina students’ education outcomes at public, in-state schools and indicate gaps where interventions could be implemented to meet the state’s increasing need for a highly trained workforce. “We knew that less than half of working-age North Carolinians had earned a credential beyond a high school diploma,” says MC Belk Pilon, the president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “Still, much of the story remained unclear.” In collaboration with the John M. Belk Endowment, Carolina Demography mapped out a complete…

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Helping a community college understand migration patterns

Background  Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech) serves the students of Wake County and surrounding areas. Leaders at Wake Tech wanted to better understand the rapid growth and migration patterns in the region that would help them plan for future recruitment and enrollment at Wake Tech. Approach   We used data from a variety of sources – the  U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, U.S. Census Bureau commuting data (LODES), student data from the NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Community College System (NCCCS) data, and custom-developed population projections from a…

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How are tourist locations impacted by seasonal population flows?

Standard population measures don't necessarily account for populations that ebb and flow -- as they tend to do in resort and beach towns. We collected data from a variety of sources, looking at factors like emergency services usage, water demands, housing, local employment, and local expenditures and investments. We also interviewed people who worked in these locations. Our research made clear that you can’t look at the benefits of tourism without also accounting for the cost of infrastructure — and that it is a difficult dynamic to manage. The results were presented in both a…

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Understanding the true buying power of a region

A local business owner needed to convince a popular franchise’s parent organization that local residents in a rural NC county would frequent his shop. But he faced a challenge: On paper, the rural county is sparsely populated, with many household incomes falling well below the state’s median. Starting in November 2017, he began working with Carolina Demography to paint a more robust picture of the area. We began by looking at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, which indicated that the high-level snapshot of the county didn’t paint a complete picture.

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Examining the community college landscape

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is a major provider of education and training to North Carolina workers and plays a critical role in helping North Carolina ensure sufficient levels of education and training to remain competitive in the changing economy. Despite the increasing demand for education, NCCCS has seen steadily declining enrollments since recovery from the Great Recession began in 2010. While population projections suggest that NCCCS may recover some of the recent enrollment declines, many individual community colleges face increased recruitment challenges due to demographic changes.

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Customizing a keynote for transportation planners

We are often asked to develop custom presentations for leaders across a variety of sectors who want to know how demographic shifts will affect their industry. We recently gave one such presentation to transportation leaders, who wanted to know how future demographic and industry trends might intersect. Background  Based at the University of Memphis, the Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC) helps ensure that there are enough career-ready truck drivers in the Southeast region of the United States. The center identifies education and training gaps, develops partnerships across the transportation and freight sectors, and develops programs…

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Targeting research project recruitment

Background  The SUDDEN research project at the UNC School of Medicine investigates all sudden unexpected deaths among adults ages 18-64 that occur outside of a hospital. Piloted in Wake County in 2013, the project seeks to understand risk factors for both cardiac and non-cardiac deaths. Ross J. Simpson, the lead SUDDEN PI and a cardiologist, wanted to expand his research study beyond Wake County. He approached Carolina Demography with a question: With limited budget and time, which counties in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia should his team focus on in order to obtain a…

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Improving recruitment efforts at a large utility company

A large utility company was planning to expand their operations and add hundreds of new field employees within a year. However, existing field employees were simultaneously leaving the company at a high rate. This added significant costs and hindered the organization’s capacity to scale operations. The utility company needed to understand why their current employees were leaving and how their turnover rates compared more broadly to industry trends. Through analysis of the utility company’s employee databases and conversations with their executives, Carolina Demography developed a profile of employees most likely to stay (and, conversely, those…

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Understanding the impact of tourism on the Galapagos Islands

Since 2011, the Center for Galapagos Studies (CGS) has marshalled the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's research strengths to address the complex human and environmental pressures in the Galapagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of evolutionary science. The archipelago’s growing local population and burgeoning tourism trade have created ongoing tensions between resource conservation efforts and economic development. In 2007, the Galapagos Islands were labeled “at risk” by the United Nations from threats associated with population growth. UNC and their partners at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) work on…

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