Census: People concentrating in cities, NC counties lose population


(Image: The Winston-Salem Journal)

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PIEDMONT TRIAD, N.C. — The state grew by 1.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, but new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that 44 of the state’s 100 counties — including most in Northwest North Carolina — lost residents.

The state’s economic powerhouses of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham led the way, contributing almost 45 percent of the state’s growth during the first year since the 2010 census.

The counties that lost people cut wide swaths across the Piedmont, taking in many midsize counties that once formed the core of North Carolina’s textile and furniture industries. They also included many mountain counties that in the past drew an influx of retirees, and a large chunk of counties in the agricultural northeast.

“It is shocking and really quite troubling,” said geographer Keith Debbage, a professor at UNC Greensboro. “It is a reshuffling of the deck of cards. What it is telling you is that cities matter more than ever. In the large, urban economies of the state, you have a more diverse portfolio and wider educational opportunities.”

Most of the losses were small — most counties that lost population decreased by less than 1 percent. But the trend showed a marked change from the 2000 to 2010 period, when only seven counties — most in the northeast — had a population decline.

This article was written by Wesley Young and originally published by The Winston-Salem Journal. Click here to read more.

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