The U.S. Census numbers are out now and experts have been pouring over the data to figure out the trends over the last 10 years. The results: diversity is on the rise in the Charlotte area, which is a great draw for even more people to move here. This is in evidence from the strong real estate market we have been enjoying. The Charlotte suburbs in particular have been seeing a rise in diversity.
The data from the Census Bureau shows how the population is shifting. North Carolina has a rapidly growing population and the census data is used to determine lots of things from where new schools will be built to if you need a new congressperson. Representation matters, especially in local politics so the census data is important for catching that representation up with the realities of how the city has changed. The census is only performed every 10 years, so a lot of demographic change can happen in that time.
When you really dig into the numbers, you can see that there has been a change in reporting from previous censuses. There are many more categories for race than ever before. This could be a driver of some of the diversity numbers. This means that we may look more diverse on paper, but are maybe just as diverse as we always have been. This accounts for a lot of the change, but doesn’t explain all of the rise.
Communities of color are increasing in Mecklenburg County, Gaston County, Cabarrus County, and Union County. They are growing at a much more rapid pace than the white communities in the same counties. In fact, many of those counties now have a white minority like Mecklenburg which is now 55% non-white. What the data also shows is that home prices in the center of the city have gone up and that it is pushing communities of color further out from the city into the surrounding counties.
Charlotte is by no means unique in rising prices driving people further from the city. In fact, the general trend we have seen since the beginning of Covid is people wanting more space away from neighbors and not minding having a commute as more and more people are working from home for at least part of the work week. Minorities have driven much of the population growth across the country with the white population growing at the slowest rate.
The Asian population has had the largest gains in the Charlotte area, followed by the Hispanic population, then the Black population. As we see growth outside of Uptown Charlotte, we may see the suburban areas develop into major commercial centers with corresponding job growth and development.
As we are seeing all of this growth in the urban areas, there has been a corresponding shrinking of the population in rural areas. The only rural counties that saw growth were ones with tourist destinations like the beach and the mountains. We are seeing this locally with growth around Lake Norman and Lake Wylie which had home sales up 12.6% and 13.9% year-to-date respectively.