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Are you 1 in a million? Charlotte’s getting there

In January, thousands of Panthers fans crowded Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte, which ranked 10th in population growth among U.S. cities with at least 50,000 residents, newly released Census estimates show.
In January, thousands of Panthers fans crowded Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte, which ranked 10th in population growth among U.S. cities with at least 50,000 residents, newly released Census estimates show. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

While North Carolina’s biggest city stoked its steamroller of growth, nearly half the state’s large municipalities actually lost population in new census estimates released Thursday.

Charlotte’s population saw the 10th-largest numerical increase in the country among large cities last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That easily secured the city’s title as North Carolina’s largest city, with 827,097 residents – well ahead of Raleigh and its 451,066 residents.

The report shows the uneven growth of North Carolina, which topped 10 million residents last year, making it the nation’s ninth-largest state.

Of the 552 North Carolina communities counted by the Census Bureau, about 41 percent lost population last year, including sizable cities such as Fayetteville, Rocky Mount and Jacksonville.

Charlotte ranked 10th in population growth (raw numbers) among U.S. cities with at least 50,000 residents, the census estimates show.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on municipal population shows most of the big gainers are in the South and West, matching the shift in the nation’s population. Seattle and Denver now both have more residents than Detroit, while Arlington, Texas, displaced Cleveland on the list of the nation’s 50 largest cities.

Among the report’s findings:

▪ For towns with at least 10,000 people, two towns south of Charlotte saw the area’s largest growth. Fort Mill, S.C., grew 4.4 percent to 13,662, and Waxhaw grew 5.9 percent to 13,495.

▪ Charlotte’s addition of 17,695 people from July 2014 to July 2015 put its gains just behind ninth-place Denver (18,582) and just ahead of Seattle (15,339).

▪ Raleigh’s population reached an estimated 451,066 last July 1, making the city the 42nd-largest in the country, just behind Virginia Beach.

▪ Durham’s population was an estimated 257,636 last July, making it the nation’s 79th-largest city, just behind Buffalo, N.Y. Durham solidified its position as the state’s fourth-largest city, ahead of No. 5 Winston-Salem but behind No. 4 Greensboro.

▪ Fayetteville was the largest city in the state to see a population decline. Its population dropped 0.7 percent to about 202,000, data show.

Researcher David Raynor contributed.

Fastest growth rates

Although Charlotte’s growth rate of 2.19 percent did not keep up with North Carolina’s second-largest city, Raleigh, which grew 2.42 percent, it did outpace some of the state’s other large cities:

▪ Durham (2.03 percent)

▪ Wilmington (1.76 percent)

▪ Greensboro (0.85 percent)

▪ Winston-Salem (0.7 percent)

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