R-C area population declines

Published 10:22 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

Have you noticed any decline in the number of people living in your neighborhood?

According to the latest figures released March 26 by the U.S. Census Bureau, each of the four counties that comprise the Roanoke-Chowan area are estimated to have fewer residents now than when the Bureau conducted its full national population audit in 2010.

Combined, the R-C area’s population is projected to have lost 3,803 residents between April 1, 2010 and July 1 of last year. That represents less than a one percent decrease.

However, while the numbers are down slightly, local officials are not sounding any alarms.

Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown said he questioned the estimates as provided by the US Census Bureau.

“We’ve seen similar mid-decennial estimates previously, and those projections of population decline have been variously off the mark, meaning there was no decline, or pretty close.  We’ll see,” Brown stated.

Brown added that what the projection does show is the continuing growth of America’s urban population, part of which results from the migration of rural residents to urban areas.

“Perhaps, the greatest impact, at the state and federal level, will be on the policy and program planning/development side, with more emphasis being placed on infrastructure and service delivery in urban areas,” Brown said of the estimates. “And all of that will be based on analysis of the trends. Locally, a declining population certainly matters when it comes to per capita funding driven programs, particularly when it involves state/federal/local revenue sharing.”

Brown’s county saw the largest decline in population, among the R-C area foursome, as the Census Bureau estimates a loss of 1,636 residents (22,099 in 2010 compared to a projected 20,463 residents as of July 1, 2014).

A portion of Northampton’s decline is attributed to real numbers in the “life event” cycle. The county recorded 824 births during the aforementioned time frame compared to 1,143 deaths (a net loss of 319 citizens).

The R-C area’s smallest shift in citizenry came in the region’s most-populated county – Hertford. In the 2010 Census, the county was home to 24,669 residents. The estimation conducted last year noted 24,308 residents, or a loss of 361 citizens. Ninety-nine of those are attributed to the fact that Hertford County recorded 1,012 births from 2010-2014 and 1,111 deaths.

Bertie County was projected to see a population decline of 1,176 citizens. The 2010 Census noted Bertie’s population at 21,282. The 2014 estimate stood at 20,106. The county’s birth/death numbers over that time period were listed at 800/1,031 (a net loss of 231 citizens).

The R-C area’s smallest county, both in population and size, was projected to have lost 630 citizens over the four-year time span. Gates County’s population was 12,197 following the 2010 Census. It is now estimated to be the home of 11,567 residents. It experienced a net loss of one person through the birth/death ratio (467/468).

As expected, North Carolina’s metropolitan area counties experienced population growth. Two are among the nation’s top 100 fastest growing counties over the past four years – Wake (#46 on the list; increasing from 900,993 in 2010 to 998,691 in 2014), and Mecklenburg (#55; increasing from 919,628 to 1,012,539).

Other NC counties noting significant growth over the past four years include Guilford (488,406 to 512,119), Forsyth (350,670 to 365,298), and Cumberland (319,431 to 326,328).

North Carolina now ranks as the ninth most populated state in the nation, growing from 9,535,483 citizens in 2010 to an estimated 9,943,964 residents as of July 1, 2014.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal