Two North Carolinas: Cities Grow at Record Pace While Rural Counties Fall Behind
The US Census Bureau now classifies 72% of North Carolina residents as “urban.” And between 2020 and 2038, 21 North Carolina counties are expected to lose population. “The good news in North Carolina is that most counties will continue to grow,” State Demographer Michael Cline says. The problem isn’t just one that should worry rural communities. Metro-area leaders should understand their social and economic dependence on rural communities as sources of food, in-commuting workers and outdoor recreational amenities. If there is a rural/urban divide, Cline says, it reflects the tension that comes with the rapid growth of metro areas. As young people migrate to cities and Northern transplants pour in, places like Charlotte and Raleigh grow denser. Suburbs become cities and exurbs emerge as new towns. Meanwhile, rural birth rates are falling and the average age is on the rise.
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