July 2015 to July 2016 was the largest year of population growth for the state of North Carolina for any single-year period since the last decennial Census (2010). This was also the case for 124 of North Carolina’s municipalities, including several with previously slim or even declining population growth. These places are labeled and represented by colored markers on the Story Map below. The table accompanying each point compares the numeric and percentage growth year-to-year from 2010-2015 with the numeric and percentage growth from 2015-2016.
This map reveals the spatial component that is likely driving growth for many of these municipalities. The blue and purple rings represent buffers – of 15, 20 and 25 miles, respectively – surrounding the boundaries of North Carolina’s most populous cities. Two-thirds of these newly emerging municipalities are less than 20 miles from a major city – well within a reasonable commuting distance. As noted in a previous post, a number of these prospective suburbs and exurbs were among the fastest-growing places in the state. Nonetheless, only future Census population estimates will reveal if these growth patterns can be expected to continue, and for which places. If trends do continue, this likely indicates that residents are choosing to live and commute greater distances from North Carolina’s major urban cores.