North Carolina Population 2017

10,247,632

Situated on the east coast of the United States, North Carolina is just the 28th largest state in the country in terms of area but it has a relatively high population density. The North Carolina population statistics make for very interesting reading as a whole, but how do the numbers stack up in recent years? It's estimated North Carolina's population has reached exceed 10 million in 2016, up from the 2010 population of 9.53 million. North Carolina currently has a very healthy growth rate of 1.13%, which ranks 14th in the nation.

To gauge the North Carolina population in 2016, it's essential to look at the last set of confirmed figures which were declared at the time of the official US census of 2010. At the time, it was reported that there were 9,535,483 people living in the state, and that represented a significant rise of 18.5% from the numbers declared in 2000.

It's now estimated that North Carolina's population has grown even further to 10,042,802, making North Carolina the 10th most populous state in the entire country.

North Carolina may only rank in the lower middle half of the US in terms of size but it more than makes up for those statistics with its population density. The total surface area is 53,819 square miles (139,390 square kilometers) and there is an average of 196 people for every square mile. This makes North Carolina the 15th most densely populated state in the US.

North Carolina has three major Combined Statistical Areas with populations over 1.6 million, as of 2016. This includes: Metrolina (Charlotte - Gastonia - Salisbury, North Carolina - South Carolina), pop 2.38 million The Triangle (Raleigh - Durham - Chapel Hill, North Carolina), pop 1.8 million The Triad (Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, North Carolina), pop 1.5 million

Charlotte is by far the largest city in North Carolina, claiming 827,097 residents out of the total population of over 10 million. While North Carolina has historically been a rural area, the past thirty years have seen a rapid increase in urbanization, like most of the United States. Today, most of the residents of North Carolina live in urban and suburban areas.

North Carolina Population Chart

North Carolina Population History

It’s a simplistic view at times to suggest that the western states within the US had healthy populations from the very birth of the United States' independence but the figures in relation to North Carolina certainly back up that view.

In 1790, recorded figures show that the North Carolina population had already reached 393,751 and just ten years later those numbers had climbed to 478,103. Similar rises were noted in the Censuses that followed, and in 1870 it was confirmed that numbers had exceeded one million for the very first time.

Average percentage rises in the years that have followed have tended to be in the region of 18%, and when the numbers are already healthy, that leads to a growing population and a densely populated state.

North Carolina Population Growth

With healthy natural growth and net migration, there is nothing apparent that would suggest that the North Carolina population growth will slow down. The population density is significant but there is space still to accommodate an ever growing territory.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that the census of 2020 will show that the population has far exceeded 10 million. According to state projections, North Carolina will reach a population of 10.5 million in 2020, and will then surpass 11 million by 2030.

Population Data via US Census

North Carolina Growth Rate

North Carolina State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 10,554,877 0.98%
2019 10,452,462 0.99%
2018 10,350,047 1.00%
2017 10,247,632 1.01%
2016 10,145,217 1.02%
2015 10,042,802 1.03%
2014 9,940,387 0.96%
2013 9,845,432 1.01%
2012 9,747,021 0.99%
2011 9,651,025 1.21%
2010 9,535,483 1.71%
2000 8,049,313 1.96%
1990 6,628,637 1.20%
1980 5,881,766 1.47%
1970 5,082,059 1.10%
1960 4,556,155 1.15%
1950 4,061,929 1.29%
1940 3,571,623 1.20%
1930 3,170,276 2.16%
1920 2,559,123 1.49%
1910 2,206,287 1.54%
1900 1,893,810 1.59%
1890 1,617,947 1.46%
1880 1,399,750 2.71%
1870 1,071,361 0.77%
1860 992,622 1.34%
1850 869,039 1.44%
1840 753,419 0.21%
1830 737,987 1.45%
1820 638,829 1.39%
1810 556,526 1.53%
1800 478,103 1.96%
1790 393,751 0.00%

North Carolina Facts

North Carolina Population in 2017 Source: Willamor Media

  • The land that is now known as North Carolina was originally inhabited by Cherokee, Hateras, and Tuscarora Native American tribes.
  • Walter Raleign established the first European settlement at Roanoke Island.
  • Virginia Dare was the first English child to be born in the United States. She was born in Roanoke in 1587.
  • North Carolina harvests over 4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes annually, making it the largest producer of the vegetable in the entire country.
  • North Carolina is a leader in tobacco, brick, textile and furniture production. High Point is even known as the "Furniture Capital of the World."
  • Pepsi soda was invented and served in 1898 in New Bern, and Krispy Kreme Donuts was founded in Winston-Salem.
  • The first flight was completed over Kitty Hawk in 1903 by the Wright Brothers.
  • The Biltmore Estate of Asheville is the largest private residence in the world.

North Carolina Population Density by County

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

North Carolina Population Growth Rate by County

When examining data from the 2010 Census and US Census Bureau estimates from 2015, the counties of North Carolina have both significant increases and decreases in population across the state. The largest percentages of growth were recorded in the southern and central regions of the state. Brunswick County, the southernmost North Carolina County, reflected a growth of 13.48%, the largest rate of growth during the 5-year period. This was followed by Wake County at 12.93% and Mecklenberg at 12%. Eight additional counties in the state had growth rates that exceeded 10%, while other counties saw smaller rates of growth.

The largest decreases in population were recorded in the northeastern corner of the state, with Tyrrell County showing the largest decline at 7.77%. Other counties with higher losses include Northampton at 7.14%, Gates at 6%, and Washington at 5.91%. North Carolina had other counties with losses that were less than 5%, and these counties include Graham, Anson, Richmond, and Beaufort.

Population Pyramid

To compare North Carolina to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

North Carolina has seen a large growth in diversity, mostly fueled by immigrants from India, Southeast Asia and Latin America. There have also been high numbers of people moving from the Northeastern area of the US, Florida and even as far away as California.

North Carolina has a large African American population that makes up almost a quarter of its total population. Since the 1970s, the number of middle-class black residents has increased, and most African Americans live on the eastern Coastal Plain and in areas of the Piedmont Plateau. Many free black people migrated to the frontier areas of the state from Virginia during the colonial and post-Revolutionary period, with 80% counted as "all other free persons" in the 1790-1810 census.

The state also has a large and growing population of Asian Americans, especially those from India and Vietnam. North Carolina has the largest population of Montagnards (about 10,000) in the United States. These refugees from Vietnam's Central Highlands first arrived in the 1980s, and most live in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. North Carolina is also home to the largest American Indian population on the East Coast with an estimated population of 110,000 with 8 tribal nations recognized.

Languages Spoken in North Carolina

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 9,027,673 100
English 8,200,873 90.84
Spanish 658,940 7.3
French 26,580 0.29
Chinese 23,655 0.26
German 23,515 0.26
Telugu 6,690 0.07
Kru, Ibo, Yoruba 6,220 0.07
Portuguese 6,190 0.07
Tamil 4,900 0.05

This chart shows the top 10 non-English languages that are spoken at home in North Carolina. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

North Carolina Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 85
BachelorsDegree 28
Disabled 10
NoHealthInsurance 15
LaborForceTotal 62
LaborForceFemale 58
FoodServiceSales 18,622,258
HealthCareRevenue 55,227,505
ManufacturerShipments 202,344,646
MerchantWholesalesSales 105,275,586
RetailSales 120,691,007
RetailSalesPerCapita 12,376
MeanWorkTravelTime 24
MedianHouseholdIncome 46,693
PerCapitaIncome 25,608
PovertyPercentage 17

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in North Carolina for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 5.8% and the labor force participation rate is 62.8%.

North Carolina Business

NonemployerEstablishments 706,538
AllFirms 805,985
MenOwnedFirms 435,677
WomenOwnedFirms 287,058
MinorityOwnedFirms 183,380
NonminorityOwnedFirms 603,182
VeteranOwnedFirms 86,571
NonveteranOwn 684,743

North Carolina Housing

HousingUnits 4,490,948
HousingUnits 4,327,528
OwnerOccupiedRate 66
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 153,600
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 1,272
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 373
MedianGrossRent 790
BuildingPermits 54,757
Households 3,742,514
PersonsPerHousehold 3
SameHouseOneYearAgo 85
NonEnglishAtHome 11
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts