2013 County Population Estimates: Race & Ethnicity

Between 2012 and 2013, North Carolina gained nearly 100,000 new residents according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates. On Thursday, the Census Bureau released county-level population estimates for July 1, 2013, by age, sex, race, and ethnicity, enabling us to examine population change in even greater detail.

Looking specifically at race and ethnicity, nearly one-third (32.7 percent) of the state’s population growth since 2012 was from growth in the non-Hispanic white population, which grew by 32,673 persons between 2012 and 2013. The state’s population of black or African-American residents increased by 25,268 between 2012 and 2013, contributing to a quarter of the state’s overall population change. The Hispanic population grew by 23,835 over this same time period while the Asian population increased by 10,745. The population in other racial/ethnic groups—American Indian/Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and individuals of two or more races—also increased over this time period.

As of 2013, 64.4 percent of North Carolina’s population were estimated to be non-Hispanic white, 21.3 percent were black or African-American, 8.9 percent were Hispanic, 2.5 percent were Asian, and 1.1 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native. Here are some of the county-specific highlights for each of these major racial/ethnic groups within the state:

White (Non-Hispanic)

Wake had the largest non-Hispanic white population of any North Carolina county in 2013 (597,192) and the largest increase since 2012 (10,597). In 10 counties, the non-Hispanic white population was more than 90% of the total population in 2013. Clay had the highest percentage white (94.1 percent).

Tyrell had the smallest non-Hispanic white population in 2013 (2,191). Robeson had the smallest proportion white in 2013 (26.8 percent). Between 2012 and 2013, the non-Hispanic white population declined in more than half of North Carolina’s counties (57); Nash had the largest decrease (-860) since 2012.

Black (Non-Hispanic)

Mecklenburg had both the largest black or African-American population of any North Carolina county (305,824) and the largest numeric increase since 2012 (9,381). Six counties are majority black; Bertie has the highest percentage of blacks or African-Americans in the state (61.2 percent).

Graham had the smallest black or African-American population (32) in 2013, representing 0.4 percent of its population, the smallest proportion in the state. Two other counties—Mitchell and Clay—also had fewer than 100 black or African-American residents in 2013.  The black or African-American population declined in 40 of the state’s 100 counties; Halifax had the largest numeric decrease (-289) in the black population since 2012.

Hispanic

Mecklenburg had the largest Hispanic population of any North Carolina county on July 1, 2013 (124,799) and the largest numeric increase of the Hispanic population since July 1, 2012 (4,568). Duplin had the highest percentage of Hispanics at 21.2 percent.

Gates had the smallest Hispanic population (212) in 2013. Bertie had the lowest share of Hispanics (1.7 percent).

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

Wake had both the largest Asian population (58,214) in 2013 and the largest numeric increase since 2012 (3,146). Orange had the highest percentage of Asians, 7.5 percent.

Gates and Hyde had the smallest Asian population (20) in 2013. Twenty-two additional counties had fewer than 100 Asian residents in 2013. Gates had the smallest percentage of Asians (0.2 percent) in the state.

American Indian and Alaska Native (Non-Hispanic)

Robeson had the largest population of American Indian and Alaska Natives (51,446) in July 2013, more than ten times larger than the second largest population in Cumberland (4,651). Mecklenburg had the largest numeric increase since 2012 (118). Thirty-eight percent of Robeson’s residents are American Indian or Alaska Native; Swain has the second highest percentage, 25.9 percent.

Tyrrell had the smallest American Indian and Alaska Native population (7) in 2013. Twenty-three other counties had fewer than 100 American Indian/Alaska Native residents in 2013. Washington had the smallest percentage of American Indians (0.15 percent) in the state.

Want to know more about North Carolina’s population? Here are 5 things you need to know about the 2013 county population estimates.

Data source: Annual Resident Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013. U.S. Census Bureau.

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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