Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The two largest cities in North Carolina continue to be among the fastest growing in the country, in terms of population percentage increase. This week, Forbes published its list of the 10 Fastest-Growing Cities In the U.S. (and the 10 Slowest-Growing), with Raleigh ranking as the fastest growing and Charlotte coming in fifth. In between them, Austin, Texas is ranked second, Las Vegas is third, and Orlando is fourth.

Forbes explains how it analyzed the data, which was recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Some of the cities' growth have been impacted by economic factors such as the housing market and job sectors. The cities' populations are grouped into their respective metropolitan statistical areas--MSAs encompass the populations of the smaller surrounding cities and towns. So for Charlotte, the MSA includes Gastonia and Rock Hill, among others. According to Forbes:

No. 1: Raleigh, NC, Metropolitan Statistical Area
2012 population: 1,188,564
Growth since 2000: 47.8%
Growth since 2011: 2.2%
Rank in 2011-2012: No. 3

No. 5: Charlotte, NC-SC
2012 population: 2,296,569
Growth since 2000: 32.8%
Growth since 2011: 1.7%
Rank in 2011-2012: No. 9

Forbes ran a bland photo of Uptown Charlotte's skyline. They should've hit up my buddy, photographer Jon Strayhorn of Media Arts Collective, to get a great shot like this.

Cleveland ranks as the slowest growing U.S. city, with Detroit, not surprisingly, coming in a close second, followed by Buffalo and Pittsburgh. All four of these cities have decreased in population since 2000.

Charlotte has ranked high on the fastest-growing cities lists since I've lived here. And over the past year, all it takes is a drive through neighborhoods like South End and Plaza Midwood to see the many new apartments being built, and in south Charlotte where subdivisions are being expanded and/or entirely new ones are being constructed with hundreds of houses (evident in this July 2012 article I wrote for Charlotte magazine).

Rapid population growth is why it's important that a city like Charlotte is forward-thinking in its city planning, particularly as it pertains to roads and public transportation (i.e. light rail and streetcar), as well as job growth and the types of industries city leaders try to lure here.


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