How Fast Are WNC Counties Growing & What’s Behind That Growth?

The change in population is probably the most common measure used to understand how a community is doing and gauge its direction. Recently the U.S. Census Bureau released 2015 population numbers for all counties and metros in the nation.

According to the new data, the four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood & Madison Counties) grew by 1.1 percent between 2014 and 2015. This places Asheville sixth among all fifteen metros in the state for its pace of population growth (see chart below). Four of the state’s metros lost population over the period. Asheville inched past the national rate of 0.8 percent and the statewide rate of 1.0 percent. Over the last decade Asheville metro’s average annual population growth rate equaled 1.2 percent; it peaked in 2006 at 2.1 percent and bottomed in 2010 at 0.8 percent.

North Carolina Metros
Percent Population Change 2014-2015

NC Metros Percent Population Change 2014 - 2015

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Population change can be traced back to its two main sources; natural and migration. Natural is simply the net difference between births and deaths. Migration is the net change between people moving into or out of an area. Migration includes both domestic and foreign movers. Between 2014 and 2015 Asheville metro added a net of 4,771 new residents from migration, but lost a net of 293 residents due to deaths outpacing births (see chart below). Asheville and Hickory metros are the only metros in the state to gain from migration and lose from natural; although Hickory’s gains and losses were quite minor.

North Carolina Metros
Source of Net Population Change 2014-2015

NC Metros Source of Net Population Change 2014 - 2015

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

A closer look at the four individual counties that comprise the Asheville metro reveals the unique contribution of each. Buncombe is the only county to add population from both sources (see chart below). Henderson and Haywood both experienced growth from migration and also shared losses from natural. And Madison saw only slight losses from both sources; -40 from natural and -3 from migration.

Asheville Metro Counties
Source of Net Population Change 2014-2015

Ashevill Metro Counties Source of Net Population Change 2014-2015

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

So how fast is Asheville metro growing? At 1.1 percent Asheville is growing slightly faster than the national and statewide rates. Among other metros in the state it finds itself comfortably midway between top ranked Raleigh and Charlotte, and metros that are losing population. And its current pace is surprisingly close to its ten year average.

And what’s behind that growth? Migration is the clear driver spurring Asheville metro’s population growth.

Other Western North Carolina Markets

From 2014 to 2015 Watauga County, whose county seat is Boone, experienced a net population increase of 559 residents; with the majority of that increase coming from migration (see chart below). The increase equals an annual rate of 1.1 percent. Over the last decade the annual growth rate has averaged 1.3 percent in Watauga. In that decade its growth rate peaked in 2006 at 2.9 percent and just last year saw its slowest annual pace of 0.2 percent.

Although McDowell County, whose county seat is Marion, experienced a very slight net population increase of 47 more residents, 2015 marks an improvement over the previous four years which saw declines or increases of fewer than 20 new residents. The 2014 to 2015 increase is equal to a 0.1 percent annual growth rate; a hair below the last decade’s average rate of 0.3 percent. All of McDowell’s net population growth is due to migration, with the county having a net natural loss of 41 residents.

McDowell & Watauga County
Source of Net Population Change 2014-2015

McDowell & Watauga County Source of Net Population Change 2014-2015

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Contact Johnson Price Sprinkle PA to help you grow your business.

  Asheville               Boone                      Marion
828-254-2374       828-262-0997           828-652-7044

About Johnson Price Sprinkle PA:

Johnson Price Sprinkle PA (JPS) is a leading certified public accounting firm in Western North Carolina, providing innovative solutions created specifically for small to mid-sized businesses. With a sixty year history, JPS has built its practice on providing superior accounting and exceptional service, in taxation, business advisory and assurance, to move clients forward by giving them the power of a national firm with the attention of a community-based one.