North Carolina Population 2021

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The North Carolina population statistics make for very interesting reading as a whole, but how do the numbers stack up in recent years? North Carolina currently has a very healthy growth rate of 1.13%, which ranks 14th in the nation.

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.

North Carolina Area and Population Density

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.

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.

The most populated counties in North Carolina are Mecklenburg (1,076,837), Wake (1,072,203), and Guilford (526,953) counties.

North Carolina Gender and Religion Statistics

The median age of the population in North Carolina is approximately 38.3 years of age. The ratio of females to males in the state is about 51.4% females to 48.6% males.

In terms of religious preferences across the state, 77% of the population report affiliation with a Christian based faith, 3% are affiliated with non-Christian based faiths, and 20% are unaffiliated with any faith in particular.

North Carolina Boundary, Census, and Statehood History

North Carolina was one of the 13 original States and by the time of the 1790 census had essentially its current boundaries. In 1790 census coverage included most of the State, except for areas at the western end, parts of which were not enumerated until 1840. The population for 1810 includes Walton County, enumerated as part of Georgia although actually within North Carolina.

North Carolina Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of North Carolinawas:

  • White: 68.68%
  • Black or African American: 21.44%
  • Other race: 3.09%
  • Asian: 2.85%
  • Two or more races: 2.66%
  • Native American: 1.21%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.07%

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.

North Carolina Population Projections

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.

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.

North Carolina Population 2021

  • The land that is now known as North Carolina was originally inhabited by Cherokee, Hatteras, and Tuscarora Native American tribes.
  • Walter Raleigh 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 Facts

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 Mecklenburg 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.

North Carolina Population Growth Rate by County

North Carolina Population Density by County

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
Black or African American2,200,76121.44%
Some Other Race316,7633.09%
Two or More Races273,2762.66%
American Indian and Alaska Native123,9521.21%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander7,2130.07%

North Carolina Population by Race

North Carolina Population Pyramid $2021


North Carolina Median Age







North Carolina Adults

There are 7,968,262 adults, (1,628,013 of whom are seniors) in North Carolina.

North Carolina Age Dependency


Age Dependency Ratio


Old Age Dependency Ratio


Child Dependency Ratio

North Carolina Sex Ratio







North Carolina Population by Age

North Carolina Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

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North Carolina Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Non Family52%48%


Rate of Home Ownership

North Carolina Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
Non Family1,370,087152


Average Family Size


Average Household Size


North Carolina Households by Type

Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade314,5454.50%
9th to 12th Grade538,8517.72%
High School Graduate1,791,53225.65%
Some College1,480,93321.21%
Associates Degree675,1459.67%
Bachelors Degree1,395,21419.98%
Graduate Degree787,63911.28%

North Carolina Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

North Carolina Educational Attainment by Race

Race Total High School Bachelors
Other Race160,89387,42217,414
2+ Races99,72888,90432,184
Native American80,21960,30310,975

The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 91.41%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 57.65%.

North Carolina Educational Attainment by Race

Name Average Male Female
Less Than 9th Grade$22,459$26,011$16,854
High School Graduate$29,278$32,969$23,360
Some College$33,784$41,493$28,967
Bachelors Degree$50,523$63,291$42,689
Graduate Degree$63,845$85,203$54,012


Average Earnings


Average Male


Average Female

North Carolina Earnings by Educational Attainment

North Carolina Language by Age


North Carolina Language

88.20% of North Carolina residents speak only English, while 11.80% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 7.62% of the population.

North Carolina Language

North Carolina Poverty by Race

Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate


Overall Poverty Rate


Male Poverty Rate


Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in North Carolina

The race most likely to be in poverty in North Carolina is Other, with 27.22% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in North Carolina is White, with 10.20% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.11%. Among those working part-time, it was 18.46%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 21.77%.

North Carolina Poverty

Name Poverty
Less Than 9th Grade27.56%
High School14.67%
Some College10.33%
Bachelors or Greater4.03%

North Carolina Poverty Rate by Education

Rate Poverty
Female Unemployed37.85%
Male Unemployed30.76%
Female Employed8.48%
Male Employed5.94%

North Carolina Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

North Carolina Income by Household Type

Name Median Mean
Married Families$83,332$107,219
Non Families$32,906$47,033

Income by Household Type

North Carolina Marital Status

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Marriage Rates


Overall Marriage Rate


Male Marriage Rate


Female Marriage Rate

North Carolina Married by Age and Sex


North Carolina Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 45-54.

North Carolina Marital Status by Race

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North Carolina Marital Status



Number of Veterans


Male Veterans


Female Veterans

War Veterans
First Gulf War158,495
Second Gulf War145,221
World War II16,191

North Carolina Veterans by War

Age Group Veterans
35 to 54171,337
65 to 74167,256
55 to 64125,538
18 to 3465,050

North Carolina Veterans by Age

Name Veterans % of Total
2+ Races10,1217.63%
Native American6,3296.85%
Other Race5,1862.63%

North Carolina Veterans by Race

North Carolina Veterans by Education



Veteran Poverty Rate


Veteran Disability Rate

North Carolina Veterans by Education



Labor Force Participation


Employment Rate


Unemployment Rate

North Carolina Employment by Age


North Carolina Employment by Race


North Carolina Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens


Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens



Born in North Carolina


Native Born


Foreign Born


Non Citizen



Place of Birth

91.98% of North Carolina residents were born in the United States, with 56.41% having been born in North Carolina. 4.85% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.

North Carolina Place of Birth

  1. North Carolina State Data Center
  2. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  4. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  5. Census QuickFacts
  6. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)