New Census estimates show population gain for Wilmington, region
May 23, 2013By J. Elias O'Neal
Despite high unemployment and legislative limitations on annexation, the Port City continues to see its population grow, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday for cities with populations over 50,000 residents.
As of July 1, 2012, Wilmington added 3,446 new residents to the city – a 3.2 percent increase over the 106,476 people recorded in April 2010, according to census estimates.
Of the 729 U.S. cities with populations over 50,000 residents, Wilmington ranked No. 243 nationally and remained the eighth-largest city in the state with 109,922 people.
Other metro Wilmington municipalities posted modest population gains.
Leland is now home to 15,123 people as of July 1, 2012 – an 8.3 percent increase over the 13,960 residents recorded in April 2010, according to census estimates. Oak Island and Carolina Beach also gained population during that time frame, with 7,003 and 5,883 people calling the coastal towns home, respectively.
Charlotte remained the largest city in North Carolina – followed by Raleigh and Greensboro – and the 17th largest city in the country with more than 775,000 residents.
Wilmington city manager Sterling Cheatham said Thursday he was not familiar with the new population estimates but said he was not surprised by the Port City’s continued population growth.
Cheatham said the city continues to find ways to encourage dense residential and commercial growth through infill development and voluntary annexation, given the city’s limited ability to involuntary annex sections of New Hanover County.
“We have to find ways to increase our density that promotes a high quality of life,” Cheatham said.
He said the No. 1 challenge facing the city and region will be infrastructure -- particularly transportation -- adding that a third bridge linking New Hanover County to Brusnwick County will be an important economic development driver for the next two decades. Cheatham also said that education, job growth and modest tax rate were issues the city and region were working to improve that would enhance continued population growth.
“This is a good thing,” Cheatham said. “It’s a sign that a lot of positive things are happening, and people want to be a part of it.”
Top 10 largest N.C. cities as of July 1, 2012
9-High Point: 106,586