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.

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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Measuring the data that matters to a community

Background Creating structure around data Our clients were, in their words “swimming in data soup.” They often had to collaborate together on county and town-level projects, and wanted to ensure that they were using numbers from the same data sources and had the same understanding about the status of their community. Their goal: to align around their work and their messaging around that work. They enlisted Carolina Demography to streamline their existing processes for acquiring, updating, and maintaining the data they used for their community reports and presentations and to inform decision-making by local governments,…

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Calculating Wake County’s one millionth resident

In 2014, the Wake County Board of Commissioners asked Carolina Demography to estimate when their population would surpass one million residents. In addition, they asked us to contextualize the estimated characteristics of their millionth resident in a broader discussion of past trends, current demographic characteristics, and a look to the future of Wake County. In 1910, Wake County’s population was 63,229. Although Wake County has grown steadily since then, it did not reach 100,000 residents until 1940. Over half a century later, in 1994, Wake’s population surpassed half a million. The establishment of Research Triangle…

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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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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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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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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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Soup-to-nuts data analysis

Appalachian GEAR UP wanted to provide each of the counties they serve with clear and usable information showing how their students were meeting college and career readiness benchmarks at key milestones between middle school and college. They also wanted each county to learn how their students were performing as compared to other students within their Prosperity Zone and the state of North Carolina. They asked Carolina Demography to determine which data sources were needed, perform an analysis on that data, and then create a series of one pagers for each county.

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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.”

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