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Domestic migration fuels North Carolina’s swelling population

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s population grew at the fourth-highest rate in the nation in 2023, swelling by 139,526 residents over the year, according to the most recent U.S. Census figures.

Census data released in the final two weeks of 2023 shows North Carolina’s population increased by 1.3% to 10.8 million residents between July 2022 and July 2023. Coupled with the previous year’s 128,865, it is a gain of a quarter-million residents in two years.

The percentage change trails South Carolina (1.7%), Texas and Florida (1.6% each), and is equal to Idaho.

In terms of numerical growth, Texas gained the most residents at 473,453, followed by Florida at 365,205, North Carolina with 139,526, Georgia with 116,077 and South Carolina with 90,600.

The majority of the growth came from domestic migration, which accounted for 97,264 new residents. That’s about 1% less than the 98,524 who moved from other states between July 2021 and July 2022.

The figures are widely viewed as a reflection of states’ economic policies and the opportunities they create, particularly in regards to domestic migration. North Carolina’s in-migration of nearly 100,000 was only behind Florida (194,438) and Texas (186,767).

There were 12,657 more natural births (121,148) than deaths (108,491). The net natural change between July 2022 and July 2023 is 4,863 residents more than the prior three years combined.

Another 29,448 new residents came from abroad, which continues an increasing trend following the pandemic. International migration to North Carolina totaled 26,184 in 2022, 9,920 in 2021, and 679 in 2020.

Both the state’s natural births and international migration follow national trends highlighted by the Census Bureau in December.

“U.S. migration returning to prepandemic levels and a drop in deaths are driving the nation’s growth,” Kristie Wilder, demographer at the Census Bureau, said in a statement. “Although births declined, this was tempered by the near 9% decrease in deaths. Ultimately, fewer deaths paired with rebounding immigration resulted in the nation experiencing its largest population gain since 2018.”

In total, the nation’s population increased by more than 1.6 million people last year, a growth rate of 0.5% that brings the total to 334,914,895. More states had increasing populations in 2023 than any year since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 42 states and the District of Columbia had increasing populations, compared to 31 states and D.C. in 2022 and 34 states in 2021.

The South, the nation’s most populous region and the only one to grow its population through the pandemic, accounted for 87% of the nation’s growth in 2023. It added 1.4 million residents for a total population of 130,125,290 across 16 states and the District of Columbia.

New York lost the most residents between July 2022 and July 2023 with a decline of 101,984. Other big losers include California (75,423), Illinois (32,826), Puerto Rico (14,422) and Louisiana (14,274).

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