Here’s news you don’t hear every day: One million people live in Mecklenburg County. Well, not yet, but soon – Thursday, Sept. 12, in fact (or somewhere around there).
Noting the consistent growth in Mecklenburg County, both the U.S. Census Bureau and the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management expect the 2014 population estimate to be more than 1 million people. I took it one step further to estimate when our population would hit the coveted seven-digit mark.
How does one figure that out? The Census Bureau updates county population estimates every July. The latest estimate, from
2012, puts Mecklenburg County’s population at 969,031. The 2013 estimates have not been released yet. However, using the average growth from the 2010 census to the 2012 estimate puts the July 2013 population estimate somewhere around 995,000 people. Converted to a daily growth rate, the number exceeds 1 million on or around Sept. 12, 2013.
We may very well have already surpassed 1 million residents or may not reach that point until later in the year. While the news of surpassing 1 million residents is not in itself terribly exciting, the growth from a population of 511,000 just 33 years ago is. While many other areas of the country struggle with consistent population losses or stagnant growth, the Charlotte area has thrived, boasting population growth of more than 2.5 percent annually; people are flocking to Charlotte from elsewhere seeking opportunities.
Will we ever reach 2 million residents? Maybe, but consider the fact that our population density would have to double from the current 1,900 people per square mile to 3,818 per square mile. That kind of density would have our landscape looking similar to present-day Milwaukee and Orange County, Calif. (Los Angeles suburbs) – both just slightly denser than the county that seats Detroit.
Charlotte’s growth is expected to keep pace with the last 30 years and doesn’t show signs of slowing in the near future. Homebuilding is increasing, and apartment complexes are hardly keeping up with demand. If my calculations are correct, expect the next milestone of 2 million residents sometime in the 2040s – but don’t hold me to it.