North Carolina still among top growth states in nation

Published 10:22 am Monday, January 2, 2012

North Carolina remains one of the fastest growing states in the country, according to the first state population estimates since the 2010 census.
North Carolina had an estimated population of 9,656,401 as of July 1, 2011, an increase of nearly 121,000 since April 1, 2010. The Tar Heel state ranked fifth among the 50 states for the total number of people added and 10th for the percentage increase in population.
Only Texas, California, Florida and Georgia added more residents during the 15-month period.
Keith Debbage, a UNC-Greensboro geographer, said the country continues to see economic growth shift to southern states.
“The restructuring of the national economy to the Sun Belt states is very self-evident in the data, and North Carolina continues to benefit from that restructuring,” said Debbage.
Although the latest figures do not include county population estimates, Debbage said the Raleigh-Durham metro area remains the growth center of the state, while new residents also continue to flock to other North Carolina cities, along with areas in the mountains and along the beach.
According to the latest population data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina added about 96,000 residents in the one-year period from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011. The Census Bureau estimates about 33,000 of the new residents came from other states and about 19,000 came from other countries. The rest of the increase comes from the estimated difference between the number of births and deaths in the state.
North Carolina’s latest growth rate topped the nationwide average of 0.92 percent, the slowest national growth rate since the mid-1940s, according to Census Bureau officials. The latest estimates show three states, Michigan, Rhode Island and Maine, lost population since the 2010 census. While North Carolina’s growth rate remained one of the fastest in the country, it was well behind pre-recession levels. Between 2005 and 2006, North Carolina added about 200,000 new residents.
– source: Winston-Salem Journal, 12/21/11
North Carolina is one of nine states that will share $500 million in federal funding aimed at encouraging improvements in education. The states were awarded a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
North Carolina competed with 37 applicants for the federal funding, which will support programs to ensure that all children start kindergarten with a strong foundation for learning.
“Today, North Carolina’s youngest children moved one step closer to a brighter future thanks to the magnificent work of a dedicated group of people who made winning this grant a true ‘holiday gift’ for us all,” said Dr. Olson Huff, board chairman of the North Carolina Partnership for Children.
The governor’s office says early childhood programs from birth to age 5 improve “school readiness, academic achievement, college graduation and good citizenship” and give the state a productive workforce.
North Carolina applied for $70 million, although the exact allocation for the nine awarded states has not been announced. The state’s grant application outlined several early education initiatives, including more early learning programs in underserved areas, more diagnostic screening programs to ensure early intervention for health and development problems, and more incentives and resources to support the state’s early childhood workforce.
“All children in a classroom benefit if everyone starts kindergarten ready to succeed,” said N.C. Governor Bev Perdue. “North Carolina’s early childhood system is a national leader, and this grant will allow us to take dramatic steps toward the goal I have set of assuring that every child has the chance to succeed in school and life.”
The state plans to create an Early Childhood Advisory Council to develop and coordinate early childhood education programs. The governor said state, local agencies and non-profit agencies will work together to implement “this far-reaching and transformative plan.”
The governor also called on state legislators to respond to a court order regarding early education. Earlier this year, the N.C. General Assembly cut funding for early education programs, but Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered the state to continue offering the programs to all at-risk 4-year-olds who apply.
– source: N.C. Governor’s Office

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