Between 2000 and 2010, North Carolina’s child population (ages 0 to 17) increased by almost 318,000 individuals. Unlike growth in the 65 and older population—which grew by more than 265,000 individuals and increased almost everywhere statewide—growth in the child population was uneven across the state.
The child population shrank in 30 rural counties. The largest losses were in the eastern counties of Halifax (-2,387), Edgecombe (-1,188), and Martin (-1,098) and the western counties of Cleveland (-1,220) and Burke (-1,184). Urban counties, in contrast, had large increases in their child population. Wake gained more than 77,000 children between 2000 and 2010 and Mecklenburg gained nearly 59,100. Union County had the third largest increase; its child population grew by more than 26,100.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent population estimates by age indicate that these trends have continued since 2010. The child population continues to shrink in rural counties and grow in urban counties, although the pace of growth in urban counties has slowed from the previous decade. Between 2010 and 2012, for example, Wake County’s child population grew by 8,128. In comparison, its child population grew by 16,197 between 2000 and 2002.