North Carolina’s population is now approaching 9.9 million people, spurred in part by growth in five of the nation’s fastest-growing counties, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The numbers show that the state’s population has grown by more than 312,000 since the 2010 census, an increase of 3.3 percent. The state’s southeast corner is among the fastest growing areas in America.
Brunswick County is in the metropolitan area that includes Myrtle Beach-Conway and North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and that area was the 7th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, with the population increasing 2.7 percent between July 1 of 2012 and last July 1st.
The new numbers show that five of the nation’s 100 fastest-growing counties are in North Carolina.
They include Brunswick County, just to the west of Wilmington, which grew 2.8 percent adding 3,100 people between July 1 of 2012 and last July 1st. It is the 47th-fastest growing county in the nation.
Mecklenburg County, which includes the state’s largest city, Charlotte, added more people, 23,000, but the rate of growth was about 2.4 percent. There are now about 990,000 people in the county, the state’s biggest and which is the 74th fastest-growing county in the nation.
Harnett County, with a population of 125,000, and Wake County, with almost 975,000 are Nos. 78 and 79 in the nation in their rate of growth. Pender County, north of Wilmington, is 98th and has 55,000 people.
Much of the population growth is centered in coastal counties that are booming with a flood of transplants and retirees who want to live near the shore. According to the Census Bureau, more than half the American of the American population is now clustered within 50 miles of the coasts.
After Mecklenburg, Wake County, with 975,000 people is the second-largest in the state. Guilford County, with almost 507,000 residents is third.
Northampton County, in the northeast corner of the state on the Virginia border, has had the sharpest percentage population loss since the 2010 census. The county lost 5.7 percent of its population or almost 1,300 people.
Rockingham County, farther west along the Virginia line, has lost the most people since 2010, with its population dropping about 1,700 or just under 2 percent.