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Towns in Wake, Brunswick are growing the fastest

A mural in downtown Wendell. Painted by Peggy Lee Laughery, located at 100 W. Third Street.
Town of Wendell
A mural in downtown Wendell. Painted by Peggy Lee Laughery, located at 100 W. Third Street.

New Census estimates show most cities and towns in North Carolina continued to add residents in 2020.

Carolina Demography at UNC Chapel Hill analyzed estimates from the Census Bureau. There are two ways to look at the figures.

In terms of raw numbers, Charlotte added the most residents, but interesting trends show up when you sort the data by percentages.

North Carolina towns that grew the fastest from 2020 to 2021
U.S. Census Bureau
Carolina Demography
North Carolina towns that grew the fastest, in percentage terms, from 2020 to 2021

Wendell and Zebulon in Wake County saw their populations increase by 18% and 15%, respectively. They’re followed by a quartet of Brunswick County communities—Navassa, Leland, Northwest, and Calabash, which also registered double-digit growth.

Winston-Salem grew by just 877 residents, but that was enough to push the city’s population past 250,000. And Carolina Demography estimates that Wake Forest’s population will reach 50,000 by the end of this year.

In all, more than 60 percent of municipalities gained population from 2020 to 2021. About a third of those grew faster than the state figure of 1.1 percent.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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