New census data shows people of color driving growth in Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill’s population has grown by almost 5,000 over the past decade, the result of a boom in racial and ethnic diversity. The increase has contributed to the rapid growth of the Research Triangle which is driving North Carolina’s population increase.
These numbers will serve as the basis for the distribution of political representation throughout the state over the next 10 years.
Since 2010, North Carolina has gained more than 900,000 residents, a 9.5% increase that brings the state’s total population to 10.4 million. The majority of the state’s new residents are people of color, according to census data released Thursday.
In Chapel Hill, people of color are driving growth even more. The city’s population is now nearly 62,000, an increase of 8.3% from 2010. People of color accounted for nearly 86% of the total population growth, and about one-third of Chapel Hill’s residents s now identify as black, Hispanic or Asian.
The diverse population is fueling growth in the Research Triangle, which has grown faster than North Carolina as a whole. About a third of the state’s new residents live in Orange, Durham, Wake and Chatham counties, which are home to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Hispanic and Asian residents are the fastest growing populations in the region.
The Triangle now has more than 16% of North Carolina’s residents.
Across the state, growth is occurring in cities, suburbs and retirement destinations, Melody Kramer, director of communications at the Carolina Population Center, wrote in an email. In Orange County, 2018 estimates suggest most of this growth is occurring among residents age 65 and older, “primarily from aging as well as some immigration,” Kramer wrote.
The 2020 census sets the stage for this year’s redistricting process, when state lawmakers draw new maps for North Carolina’s 120 State House districts, 50 state Senate districts and 14 congressional districts. American.
North Carolina was one of six states to gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to population growth, along with Colorado, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas, which won two seats.
In North Carolina, redistricting is expected to be an intense fight. Lawsuits involving the new maps are “close to a certainty,” said Christopher Cooper, a professor of political science at Western Carolina University.
Maps are normally redrawn after a decennial census to reflect demographic changes and ensure equal representation. In North Carolina, the process is controlled by the state legislature, which has been under Republican control since 2011.
The state has seen three cards dismissed in the past 10 years – one in 2017 for unconstitutional racial gerrymandering and twice in 2019 for unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.
Republican state lawmakers proposed on Thursday not to use census race and voter data when developing the maps. The elimination of race data, in particular, drew criticism from Democrats, who argued the move would make it difficult to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Given the potential changes to the redistricting criteria, Cooper said, “if the past is any guide, that would suggest we will have litigation.”