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Whites, Hispanics Flow Into Wake County

Posted August 9, 2007

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— Wake County has almost doubled its Hispanic population since 2000, but whites also continue to flock to the county, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Almost 62,700 Hispanics lived in the county in July 2006, up 84 percent from six years earlier, census figures released Thursday show. Hispanics now make up 7.9 percent of the county's population.

Meanwhile, Wake County has experienced the nation's second-highest growth of non-Hispanic whites since 2000, at 18,700 people. Only Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, added whites at a faster clip in recent years, with 35,500 new white residents.

Wake County continues to trail Mecklenburg County as the most populous in North Carolina. Mecklenburg is home to 827,445 people, compared with the 786,552 who live in Wake, according to census figures.

Other top counties in North Carolina are Guilford at 451,905 people, Forsyth at 332,335, Cumberland at 299,060 and Durham at 246,896.

Durham County experienced a 68 percent increase in its Hispanic population between 2000 and last year, and Hispanics now account for 11.5 percent of its total population, according to census figures. Johnston County's Hispanic population is now 10.5 percent of its total after a 69 percent jump in recent years, figures show.

Cumberland County, on the other hand, saw a 23 percent drop in its Hispanic population since 2000, and Hispanics now account for just over 5 percent of its population.

"The fact that North Carolina's had a growing Latino population for some time means that there are Latinos coming not only from all over the world but from all over the country," said Marisol Jimenez McGee, advocacy director of El Pueblo, a Hispanic advocacy group. "(There are people)  from New York, Chicago (and) Texas that are coming to North Carolina because it's a great place to live."

But William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said illegal immigration is driving the Hispanic population boom.

"The majority of Hispanics coming into North Carolina right now, unfortunately, are illegal aliens coming predominantly from Mexico," Gheen said. "They're coming here because of the Mexican consulate, which is giving them documentation and assistance, and (because of) a large number of state benefits, such as free education (and) free health care."

Other facts from the new census information include:

  • Hispanics make up 20 percent of Duplin County's population.
  • Thirteen North Carolina counties have more men than women residents. They are Alexander, Anson, Avery, Burke, Caswell, Currituck, Granville, Greene, Hyde, Montgomery, Onslow, Pamlico and Tyrrell.
  • The youngest county in the state is Hoke County, with a median age of 31.1 years. The oldest is Clay County, with a median age of 46.5 years. Wake County's median age is 34.6 years.