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Data Dashboard: Population Density


Population Density

Trend at a Glance

At last count

1,167 people/square mile

Current Through

July 1, 2013



What does this measure?

Population density, or population per square mile of land area, is a by-product of population growth and indicates where and how much growth occurs within the county. Monitoring changes in population densities provides an opportunity to assess land use in urban, suburban and rural areas. Urban areas have population densities measuring at least 3,000 people per square mile and are expected to have a concentrated mix of housing, retail, education, medical, recreation and transportation options. Communities measuring below 1,000 people per square mile are rural areas, where residences and amenities are spread farther apart from each other, as the land is used primarily for agriculture, forestry, horticulture, or open space and parks. Population density impacts costs of service provision, as government and business investments are made based on the efficiency and expense of marketing, distributing or serving populations over the expanse of a geographic service area.

How is Wake County performing?

Wake County is an urbanizing county. The population density grew by 51% between 2000 and 2012, from 755 to 1,140 persons per square mile. In 2012 four Wake County municipalities ranked in the top 15 of the most densely populated cities in North Carolina: Raleigh (#4), Cary (#7), Apex (#9) and Morrisville (#13).

Did you know?

Between 2000 and 2012, Morrisville's population density increased by 224%, the highest increase among all core municipalities in Wake County.

Data Source

Data Considerations

Note that a decline in population density may not be solely attributable to a decline in population, as this statistic is also affected by annexations. Population density is calculated here using land area only. If a municipality annexes a significant number of acres that is underdeveloped or not heavily populated, its overall population density may decline.

Charts & Maps



Data is updated:

The United States Census Bureau publishes official national, state and county population estimates and population estimate revisions for prior years annually in March. Municipal estimates are published annually in May. Data is published here on or around March 30 by Wake County Planning, Development and Inspections.

Related Resources

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Created at 1/3/2014 3:56 PM by Lori K. Neumeier
Last modified at 12/11/2014 2:59 PM by Stephen R. Walston