Raleigh and Charlotte Projected to Grow Fastest in U.S.; Winston-Salem to Outgrow Greensboro

According to a study from the UN the fastest growing large cities in the United States from 2010 – 2030 will be Raleigh and Charlotte:

In the U.N. projections, Charlotte and Raleigh stand out among U.S. cities of 500,000 inhabitants or more with nearly identical projected population increases of 71 percent from 2010 to 2030…

The rapid growth projected for Charlotte and Raleigh as compared to several other southeastern cities (table below) shows the potential for a different urban hierarchy across the South. Austin’s projected rapid rise is also shown, since it parallels Charlotte’s in these projections. 

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision.

The U.N. projections measure urban areas that are physical, rather than functional, using the geography of continuous built-up areas…That pattern typically has lower residential density here, giving the South more built-up area for the size of the population than other parts of the globe.

It’s interesting to see that in the 1960’s all of North Carolina’s cities were about the same size, but over the last fifty years the cities here in the Piedmont Triad have seen relatively little growth while our bookends have exploded in size. You can also see in the graph that the Triad cities are also projected to grow, but even combined they will be dwarfed by their neighbors. Still, this is good news for apartment developers – obviously better in Charlotte and Raleigh – but good news nonetheless.

Finally, it’s interesting to see that the project Winston-Salem to far surpass Greensboro by 2030. Given that Greensboro is currently larger than Winston-Salem that would be a significant change within the population makeup of the Triad.