North Carolina’s two largest cities – Charlotte and Raleigh – continue to drive a growth pattern that’s comparatively new for the state, recently released U.S. Census estimates show.
In earlier decades the state’s population growth was more evenly distributed. But in the past couple of decades growth has been strongly linked to Charlotte and Raleigh and the municipalities and counties that surround them.
This is a change, according to UNC Charlotte geographer Bill Graves. Graves, an associate professor of geography with expertise in urban development, said in an email interview that growth in the two largest cities accounts for a substantial percentage of the state’s overall growth.
“While we are seeing impressive percentage growth rates (once again) from surrounding counties, they are still a small part of the story of N.C.'s very polarized growth. This polarization is a relatively new phenomenon,” Graves said.