Wake County recently hit a new milestone… 1 million residents! Wake County is now growing by an average of 62 people each day (including births, deaths, and people moving), and has added 100,000 people in the last four years. You can view the full recent Wake County presentation here.
According to US Census numbers, Wake County’s population grew by 43.5%, from 627,846 people in 2000 to 900,993 in 2010. This was the highest growth of any metropolitan area in the nation for the 2000-2010 period (newgeography.com). Wake’s population grew by almost 100,000 in just the past four years. During the recession, the Raleigh-Durham metro area grew more than any other metro region in the U.S. (News&Observer 2010). Wake suburbs and urban areas especially have experienced unprecedented growth, exceeding 100% in some municipalities (US 2010 Census).
About 400,000 people decided to make the 6-county Triangle region their new home between 2000-2010. Total population counts for the Triangle in the last decade skyrocketed to 1.6 million. This growth is continuing, with Wake County alone projected to reach 2 million residents by 2054. (Wakegov.com). Half of these new arrivals are moving into apartments and condos.
The Raleigh metro region is projected to be the fastest growing in the U.S. over the coming decade (proximityone.com 2011). Raleigh grew from 276,093 people in 2000 to 403,892 in 2010, spiking at 46.3% population growth over the last ten years. Raleigh’s population is due to DOUBLE in the next two decades, and about half of today’s growth occurs in Raleigh and Cary combined.
The Wake County Public School System grows by thousands each year and is now the largest system in North Carolina and 17th largest in the United States. Wake County estimates that 60,000 new students may need to be absorbed into Wake schools by 2020, requiring 33 more schools to be built. (News&Observer 10/12/10)
The growth of Hispanic and Asian populations is contributing to an increasingly diverse state. In 2000, 70.2 % of our state’s population was white, and in 2010, only 65.3 % (US 2010 Census). The Hispanic population alone jumped from 4.7% to 8.4% in the ten year period. At the current pace, minority populations are expected to grow from 29% today to 35% by 2020, moving towards “majority minority” (triangle.uli.org).
30% of people living in Triangle Region are 45+. From 2000-2007, the Raleigh-Cary metro area experienced a 31.6% growth rate of persons aged 55-64, the highest of 20 national metro areas Of retirees who choose to move, the Carolinas are the #1 destination choice. (triangle.uli.org).
North Carolina jumped substantially ahead in the number of residents and is among the “mega-states” in population, swelling by a whopping 18.5% in the past decade. The state gained nearly 1.5 million people since 2000, reaching 9,535,483 – the fifth most of any state (News&Observer 12/22/10).
More People = More traffic, Longer commutes, Lower air quality!
The Raleigh–Cary area worker’s average commute time is increasing, now about 25.18 minutes – the 5th longest commute time average nationally and only 27th fastest among 52 of the largest metropolitan areas. (2009 American Community Survey administered by the US Census Bureau)
In 2009 in Wake County, 80% of commuters drove solo to work, 10% carpooled, and only 1% used public transportation (2009 ACS). With the high number of cars on the roads, it is no wonder that Wake County consistently ranks among the top North Carolina counties in the number of unhealthy air quality days per year (EPA website).
With the influx of new arrivals and population growth booming, the state’s treasured natural areas will disappear as vast tracts of land are developed into urban areas in the next twenty years. A 2007 report Environment North Carolina shows that the Triangle will lose 37% of its natural areas by 2027 unless legislative action is taken. 27-35 acres are lost to development every day in Wake County.
Water Quality and Supply:
Unless stronger actions are taken, demand for drinking water in Raleigh and Eastern Wake County will exceed supply by 2060, given projected growth (Raleigh Water Resource Assessment 2014). Drought has already repeatedly challenged shallow reservoirs like Falls Lake. The NC Division of Water Quality has identified both Falls and Jordan Lakes as “impaired” or polluted waters. Wake County has wisely invested some of its open space bond funds in watershed protection, yet protecting and restoring the quality and quantity of our existing water supplies to keep up with staggering population growth in our area will require far sighted leadership in the future.