04/09/04 — Wayne population drops, bureau reports

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Wayne population drops, bureau reports

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on April 9, 2004 2:04 PM

From staff and AP reports

Wayne County is among 18 counties in the state that have lost population since 2000, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

The county had 113,104 residents as of July 1, 2003, according to the bureau's new estimate. That's a drop of 225 people since the 2000 census.

Most of the counties with declining population are in the eastern part of the state, causing demographers to blame high unemployment and lower farm revenues.

Meanwhile, population has surged in the state's urban areas. Five North Carolina counties are among the 100 fastest growing in the nation.

Johnston County, which ranks 95th in the new survey, added 14,878 people for a 12.2 percent increase. Johnston grew largely because workers in Raleigh moved from Wake County to its new subdivisions, state demographer William Tillman Jr. said.

"Most growth in North Carolina is not due to babies; most growth is due to migration," Tillman said. "What it points to is people don't really want to live in high-density housing in North Carolina."

Among Wayne's neighbors, Lenoir County was the only one to lose population in the new estimates. It had 59,593 in 2000 and an estimated 58,549 last July, a decline of nearly 2 percent.

Duplin County gained 2,118 residents, greater than a 4 percent increase. It had 51,181 residents last July, according to the new estimates.

Greene County rose from 18,974 to 19,990, about 5 percent; Sampson County, from 60,161 to 62,037, or about 3 percent; and Wilson County, from 73,814 to 75,338, or about 2 percent.

The state's fastest grower is Union County, which borders Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. It has been fast-growing for more than a decade, swelling by 46.9 percent during the 1990s. During the first three years of this decade, it had a 17.9 percent increase, which ranked 24th nationwide.

Other N.C. counties in the top 100 are No. 54, Currituck, a 14.5 percent increase; No. 61, Camden County, 14.2 percent increase; and No. 100, Chatham County, 12 percent.

Nationally, four of the 10 fastest-growing counties are in suburban Atlanta, the Census Bureau reported.

Job opportunities and affordable housing are drawing people from around the country to the four counties, which form a semicircle around the city, officials said.

The nation's fastest growing county is Loudoun County in Virginia, which added 52,147 people, a 30.7 percent increase.