Fastest-growing counties in North Carolina

Written by:
September 23, 2021
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Fastest-growing counties in North Carolina

From 2019 to 2020, the U.S. population grew by .35%, its slowest rate since 1900. Declining births, increasing deaths largely due to the graying Baby Boomer population, and a crackdown on immigration have contributed to many states seeing net population losses in recent years.

But in other pockets of the country, populations are growing. These shifts can be due to job opportunities, high quality of life, easy commutability to job centers, low rents, or any combination of these or other factors. Stacker compiled a list of the fastest-growing counties in North Carolina using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the highest population growth from 2010 to 2020.

A county typically sees population growth as a “bedroom community” (a municipality with an atypically large commuting population) to a large city. These communities are typically quieter than their feeder cities, offer lower rents and a higher quality of living, and are remote enough to be immune to the feeder city’s crime, traffic, and crowds. Keep reading to see if your home county made the list.

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Shapard Wolf // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Yancey County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 559
--- #1,206 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +3.1%
--- #45 among counties in North Carolina, #1,141 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 18,470
--- #83 largest county in North Carolina, #1,899 largest county nationwide
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BrendaByrneGreene // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Nash County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 568
--- #1,204 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +0.6%
--- #52 among counties in North Carolina, #1,478 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 94,970
--- #30 largest county in North Carolina, #636 largest county nationwide
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Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Transylvania County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 582
--- #1,194 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +1.8%
--- #48 among counties in North Carolina, #1,319 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 32,986
--- #69 largest county in North Carolina, #1,360 largest county nationwide
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Thomas T. Waterman, Photographer // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Camden County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 636
--- #1,178 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +6.5%
--- #33 among counties in North Carolina, #802 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 10,355
--- #96 largest county in North Carolina, #2,386 largest county nationwide
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Toribio93 // Shutterstock

#46. Madison County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 644
--- #1,175 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +3.1%
--- #44 among counties in North Carolina, #1,134 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 21,193
--- #79 largest county in North Carolina, #1,756 largest county nationwide
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George Dukin // Shutterstock

#45. Clay County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 671
--- #1,166 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +6.4%
--- #34 among counties in North Carolina, #812 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 11,089
--- #92 largest county in North Carolina, #2,337 largest county nationwide
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#44. Craven County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 719
--- #1,153 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +0.7%
--- #51 among counties in North Carolina, #1,467 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 100,720
--- #27 largest county in North Carolina, #600 largest county nationwide
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#43. Cherokee County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 1,457
--- #985 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +5.3%
--- #37 among counties in North Carolina, #902 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 28,774
--- #71 largest county in North Carolina, #1,465 largest county nationwide
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OptimumPx // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Cleveland County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 1,733
--- #941 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +1.8%
--- #49 among counties in North Carolina, #1,321 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 99,519
--- #29 largest county in North Carolina, #610 largest county nationwide
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Ceh2624 // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Davie County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 2,131
--- #883 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +5.3%
--- #38 among counties in North Carolina, #909 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 42,712
--- #60 largest county in North Carolina, #1,127 largest county nationwide
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Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Stanly County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 2,395
--- #839 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +4.0%
--- #43 among counties in North Carolina, #1,033 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 62,504
--- #43 largest county in North Carolina, #853 largest county nationwide
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#39. Carteret County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 2,618
--- #808 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +4.0%
--- #42 among counties in North Carolina, #1,028 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 67,686
--- #39 largest county in North Carolina, #790 largest county nationwide
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EbonyEaton // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Granville County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 2,921
--- #776 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +5.0%
--- #40 among counties in North Carolina, #931 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 60,992
--- #45 largest county in North Carolina, #865 largest county nationwide
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MarkVanDykePhotography // Shutterstock

#37. Dare County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 3,265
--- #743 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +9.7%
--- #29 among counties in North Carolina, #579 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 36,915
--- #66 largest county in North Carolina, #1,254 largest county nationwide
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#36. Haywood County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 3,492
--- #728 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +6.0%
--- #35 among counties in North Carolina, #847 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 62,089
--- #44 largest county in North Carolina, #857 largest county nationwide
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JNix // Shutterstock

#35. Macon County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 3,561
--- #721 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +10.6%
--- #27 among counties in North Carolina, #518 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 37,014
--- #65 largest county in North Carolina, #1,250 largest county nationwide
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AbeEzekowitz // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Jackson County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 3,965
--- #692 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +10.1%
--- #28 among counties in North Carolina, #551 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 43,109
--- #58 largest county in North Carolina, #1,113 largest county nationwide
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Donald Lee Pardue // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Randolph County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 4,137
--- #681 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +3.0%
--- #46 among counties in North Carolina, #1,161 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 144,171
--- #21 largest county in North Carolina, #460 largest county nationwide
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G Keith Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Watauga County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 4,381
--- #667 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +8.8%
--- #30 among counties in North Carolina, #628 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 54,086
--- #49 largest county in North Carolina, #937 largest county nationwide
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#31. Currituck County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 4,801
--- #641 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +20.6%
--- #12 among counties in North Carolina, #173 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 28,100
--- #72 largest county in North Carolina, #1,493 largest county nationwide
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#30. Catawba County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 7,461
--- #540 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +4.9%
--- #41 among counties in North Carolina, #948 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 160,610
--- #18 largest county in North Carolina, #417 largest county nationwide
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Lee County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 7,709
--- #537 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +13.9%
--- #22 among counties in North Carolina, #350 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 63,285
--- #42 largest county in North Carolina, #845 largest county nationwide
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CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Hoke County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 7,954
--- #528 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +18.0%
--- #14 among counties in North Carolina, #230 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 52,082
--- #50 largest county in North Carolina, #965 largest county nationwide
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Dennis Brown // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Davidson County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 8,292
--- #516 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +5.2%
--- #39 among counties in North Carolina, #917 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 168,930
--- #17 largest county in North Carolina, #395 largest county nationwide
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Nikola Spasic Photography // Shutterstock

#26. Pitt County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 8,858
--- #501 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +5.5%
--- #36 among counties in North Carolina, #890 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 170,243
--- #16 largest county in North Carolina, #390 largest county nationwide
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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Pender County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 9,947
--- #482 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +19.8%
--- #13 among counties in North Carolina, #192 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 60,203
--- #46 largest county in North Carolina, #870 largest county nationwide
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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Rowan County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 9,995
--- #480 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +7.3%
--- #31 among counties in North Carolina, #746 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 146,875
--- #20 largest county in North Carolina, #453 largest county nationwide
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Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Franklin County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 10,100
--- #478 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +17.3%
--- #15 among counties in North Carolina, #252 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 68,573
--- #38 largest county in North Carolina, #782 largest county nationwide
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Washuotaku // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Lincoln County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 11,113
--- #453 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +14.7%
--- #20 among counties in North Carolina, #327 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 86,810
--- #33 largest county in North Carolina, #671 largest county nationwide
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Anthony Ricci // Shutterstock

#21. Henderson County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 12,400
--- #427 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +11.9%
--- #25 among counties in North Carolina, #442 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 116,281
--- #26 largest county in North Carolina, #541 largest county nationwide
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KAD Photo // Shutterstock

#20. Moore County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 13,813
--- #401 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +16.1%
--- #17 among counties in North Carolina, #278 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 99,727
--- #28 largest county in North Carolina, #606 largest county nationwide
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KAD Photo // Shutterstock

#19. Chatham County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 14,859
--- #381 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +24.2%
--- #8 among counties in North Carolina, #125 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 76,285
--- #36 largest county in North Carolina, #734 largest county nationwide
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#18. Orange County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 19,134
--- #341 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +14.8%
--- #19 among counties in North Carolina, #323 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 148,696
--- #19 largest county in North Carolina, #450 largest county nationwide
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#17. Cumberland County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 21,734
--- #314 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +6.9%
--- #32 among counties in North Carolina, #770 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 334,728
--- #5 largest county in North Carolina, #213 largest county nationwide
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Warren LeMay // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Alamance County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 24,343
--- #291 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +16.6%
--- #16 among counties in North Carolina, #265 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 171,415
--- #15 largest county in North Carolina, #386 largest county nationwide
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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Harnett County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 24,537
--- #289 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +22.5%
--- #9 among counties in North Carolina, #145 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 133,568
--- #23 largest county in North Carolina, #483 largest county nationwide
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Gaston County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 25,301
--- #280 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +12.5%
--- #24 among counties in North Carolina, #419 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 227,943
--- #9 largest county in North Carolina, #303 largest county nationwide
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PatGallery // Shutterstock

#13. New Hanover County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 28,430
--- #255 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +14.4%
--- #21 among counties in North Carolina, #337 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 225,702
--- #11 largest county in North Carolina, #310 largest county nationwide
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Travis K. Witt // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Iredell County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 32,061
--- #236 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +20.7%
--- #11 among counties in North Carolina, #171 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 186,693
--- #14 largest county in North Carolina, #358 largest county nationwide
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iofoto // Shutterstock

#11. Brunswick County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 34,699
--- #218 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +34.0%
--- #2 among counties in North Carolina, #54 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 136,693
--- #22 largest county in North Carolina, #475 largest county nationwide
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Anya Douglas // Shutterstock

#10. Onslow County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 35,369
--- #212 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +20.9%
--- #10 among counties in North Carolina, #168 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 204,576
--- #13 largest county in North Carolina, #334 largest county nationwide
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Nagel Photography // Shutterstock

#9. Buncombe County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 36,203
--- #207 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +15.5%
--- #18 among counties in North Carolina, #294 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 269,452
--- #7 largest county in North Carolina, #259 largest county nationwide
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#8. Forsyth County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 39,601
--- #190 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +11.5%
--- #26 among counties in North Carolina, #462 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 382,590
--- #4 largest county in North Carolina, #190 largest county nationwide
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Beckycafferylepage // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Union County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 47,921
--- #160 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +25.2%
--- #7 among counties in North Carolina, #112 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 238,267
--- #8 largest county in North Carolina, #286 largest county nationwide
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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Johnston County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 55,324
--- #139 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +34.4%
--- #1 among counties in North Carolina, #52 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 215,999
--- #12 largest county in North Carolina, #318 largest county nationwide
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PHHI // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Cabarrus County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 55,814
--- #137 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +32.8%
--- #3 among counties in North Carolina, #56 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 225,804
--- #10 largest county in North Carolina, #309 largest county nationwide
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#4. Guilford County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 65,513
--- #117 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +13.8%
--- #23 among counties in North Carolina, #357 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 541,299
--- #3 largest county in North Carolina, #129 largest county nationwide
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#3. Durham County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 66,255
--- #113 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +25.6%
--- #6 among counties in North Carolina, #107 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 324,833
--- #6 largest county in North Carolina, #221 largest county nationwide
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#2. Mecklenburg County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 232,721
--- #20 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +26.4%
--- #5 among counties in North Carolina, #98 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 1,115,482
--- #2 largest county in North Carolina, #41 largest county nationwide
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Bz3rk // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Wake County

- 2010 to 2020 population change: 278,864
--- #13 among all counties nationwide
- 2010 to 2020 percent population change: +32.8%
--- #4 among counties in North Carolina, #58 among all counties nationwide
- 2020 population: 1,129,410
--- #1 largest county in North Carolina, #40 largest county nationwide

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