North Carolina cities on the map

North Carolina traditionally has been a state of small towns, but in recent decades some of its towns have grown up to become big cities. When we compare our state’s cities to cities around the country, how do we rank? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“A recent study actually did this and it ranked U.S. cities on two factors over the years 1978 to 2010. They were population growth and income growth per person. And two of North Carolina’s largest cities — in fact, the two largest cities in North Carolina, Raleigh, and Charlotte — ranked very, very high on both factors. In fact, both cities had population growth and income growth per person well above the average for all U.S. cities.

“Now if you’re comparing Charlotte and Raleigh in this contest, the edge actually went to Raleigh. Raleigh had higher numbers for both population growth and income growth per person.

“Very interestingly, though, if you look at cities beyond North Carolina, and you look at those cities that dominate the list in terms of having high population growth and high income growth, (it) was actually cities in the southeast part of the country, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee. So not only (have) our cities in North Carolina done well, but really cities in the entire southeast have done well over the last three decades.”

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