Wednesday, July 20, 2016 What Can We Learn from Carolina Demography’s Research?

Over the past two weeks we’ve shared a couple of posts from Dr. Rebecca Tippett of Carolina Demography at UNC’s Carolina Population Center. If you haven’t read them, we encourage you to go back and read those two posts in their entirety – it’s really good stuff. But as great as Rebecca’s work is, we can’t post ALL of it, so we’ve decided to break down what we believe to be some of the more important bits of information. Of course, you can read all of her posts at and follow her on Twitter @ncdemography.

Rural population is shrinking, staying the same, or growing slowly

Urban growth is among highest in the nation

Urban growth is coming from both rural NC migrants (“sticky state”) and out-of-staters (“migrant magnet”)

Numbers and people = power and influence

Every 10 years the US Census collects demographic information and the states have to redraw legislative districts to reflect changes in where people live. This is because, among other rules, Congressional districts have to be reapportioned so that each district contains the same number of people, to the greatest extent possible. In changing the composition of legislative districts, mapmakers can also alter the balance of power between different groups.

2020 redistricting will likely shift state and federal legislative districts towards population centers

  • “North Carolina’s population has grown substantially in the past few decades, and it continues to grow. At the same time, population is increasingly concentrated in urban cores within the state and rural areas are facing additional population losses. As a consequence of these uneven population changes, many districts were already over or under ideal district size in 2014, in spite of their equal populations using 2010 decennial census counts. Unless current population growth trends change in significant and unexpected directions, these patterns will intensify through 2020, bringing significant changes to the state’s legislative maps during the redistricting process.”

NC will likely gain a 14th US House districtwhere will it be?

  • “North Carolina will likely have 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives following the post-2020 Census reapportionment process. While we cannot guarantee a 14th seat (no matter how likely), we can guarantee significant changes to the state’s congressional district boundaries during the 2021 redistricting process.”
  • “The districts in the state’s two fastest-growing metropolitan areas—District 12 in Charlotte and Districts 2 and 4 and 13 in the Triangle—are projected to be significantly above the ideal population size for 14 districts in 2020. Any new district boundaries will reflect the continued growth of the state’s largest urban areas. While the projections highlight which areas will need more representation (and thus more districts) after 2020, the placement of the districts is ultimately up to the individuals responsible for redrawing the district lines during the 2021 redistricting process.”

Rural Voices Need to be Heard

NC is still one of the most rural states in terms of population density – according to Carolina Demography, “North Carolina’s rural population is larger than that of any other state except for Texas,” and “among the ten most populous states, North Carolina has the largest proportion of individuals living in rural areas.”

And agriculture is still particularly vital to the health and success of rural economies, and is a major contributor to the state’s economy as well. Agriculture and agribusiness are the state’s #1 economic driver, generating $78 billion annually, and agriculture supports 686,200 jobs, including manufacturing, transportation, retailing, and more.

Despite population shifts towards urban areas and away from rural areas, it’s important that rural North Carolina is well represented and has a voice in Raleigh and Washington, DC.