Recently released statistics show that the population in Charlotte, NC has grown. In fact, Charlotte’s population is expected to exceed the one million mark next year. For North Carolina, this is the first time a city has seen that much growth in population.

Surprisingly, the fastest growing county in Charlotte is Mecklenburg. It used to be Union County, but in the past few years Mecklenburg has seen more growth than any other county in that state. Studies reveal that Mecklenburg saw a 5.4 percent growth last year.

According to Owen Furuseth, the trends in Mecklenburg’s population show that they are recovering faster from the recession than other counties in North Carolina. Furuseth is a professor and demography expert from the Charlotte Urban Institute.

Furuseth also pointed out that people are returning to Mecklenburg despite the high unemployment rate in that county. He says that people are migrating back to the county because they see a wealth of job opportunities that is not present in other counties.

Mecklenburg is not the only place in North Carolina that experienced population growth. Three other counties, which are Hoke, Harnett and Wakes, topped Mecklenburg. Since 2010, Wake has seen a 5.7 growth in population and is poised to become the most populated county in the state by the year 2020. The population growth in North Carolina was uneven. Some areas saw no growth at all and others lost population.

As the economy continues to improve in these counties, Furuseth expects the surge in North Carolina’s population to continue to grow. Moreover, he feels that Mecklenburg will become a vital urban area due to their population growth. Last year, there were only 41 counties in the entire nation that had a population of over one million. When Mecklenburg reaches that number, they will be far from being at the top of the list of the nation’s most populated counties. Los Angles is the most populated county in the nation with approximately ten million residents.

Despite the population growth of Mecklenburg and other counties in North Carolina, there was not one county in that area that was included in the nation’s top ten growth rates. In fact from 2010 to 2011, 68 of North Carolina’s 146 counties saw a loss in population.

The National Census Bureau said that areas in the county that saw the most population growth were counties in west Texas and in the Great Plains states. The Census Bureau accredited the growth in population in these areas to the gas and oil boom.

According to the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia MSA, Charlotte is now the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the United States. Last year, their estimated population was 2.3 million. Their ranking was improved by one spot when they surpassed Portland, Oregon in population growth.