Recently released census data shows Richmond County has had little change in population over the past decade though the state’s head count exploded by about a fifth.
County population grew by 0.2 percent from July 2001 to July 2010 to reach more than 46,600, fueled, in large part, by Hamlet. Hamlet saw its population rise nearly 8 percent in the past 10 years to reach 6,495.
“We’re excited about the potential of our growth shown in the new census numbers,” Hamlet City Manager Marchelle Adams-David said Thursday. “Obviously, there are a few people who buy into our motto - ‘The Little Town That Can.’”
Adams-David credited the city’s staff, and primarily Administrative Assistant Gail Strickland, with the increase, because of the hard work they did during the census dress rehearsal in 2008.
“Thanks to their hard work, we were able to have homes counted that weren’t counted previously,” she said.
Norman was the only other town to see growth during this time frame. Its population increased 91.7 percent to reach 138.
Rockingham remained the county’s most populous area, despite losing 1.2 percent of its people. The population remains at more than 9,500.
Dobbins Heights saw the greatest drop in population in the county, at 7.5 percent to reach 866. Hoffman also saw a significant decrease, losing 5.8 percent to reach about 600. East Rockingham also lost nearly 4 percent of its citizens, and now boasts more than 3,700.
Ellerbe gained 3.2 percent, bringing its population total to more than 1,000.
The county’s white population is about 60 percent, while the black population is about 30 percent. The Hispanic population accounts for about 6 percent.
The census also found more than a tenth of the county’s more than 20,000 housing units stand vacant.
The state’s population growth was third in the nation, trailing only Utah and Texas, as it increased 18.5 percent to reach more than 9.5 million.
Its Latino population more than doubled, increasing from fewer than 400,000 to more than 800,000.
Metropolitan areas such as Charlotte and Raleigh drove much of the gains, with Wake and Mecklenburg counties gaining more than a third over the period.
Analysts said the growth around these metropolitan areas also accounted for much of the growth. Union County, near Charlotte, was the fastest growing county with more than a 60 percent increase to top 200,000 people, and large growth was seen in Johnston County, near Raleigh, which gained more than 38 percent.
“Classic North Carolina is a spread-out, decentralized state of small cities, small towns, small factories and small farms,” Program on Public Life at the University of North Carolina Director Ferrel Guillory told USA Today. “We are not that anymore and haven’t been that in a while. We have become a more muscular metro state.”
Bob Coats, coordinator of the North Carolina Data Center Coordinator Bob Coats attributed the growth to a trend of families moving south from the Northeast for better climate and jobs.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.