COVID-19 and North Carolina’s Shifting Demographics

This study reveals COVID-19’s impact on the geo-demography of North Carolina.

Report by James H. Johnson Jr., Ph.D, Jeanne Milliken Bonds, MPA
Kenan-Flagler Business School UNC-Chapel Hill
Allan M. Parnel Vice President, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities Mebane, NC
August, 2022

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Post 2020 Census population estimates covering the first fifteen months of the pandemic are analyzed. The results reveal COVID-19’s impact on the geo-demography of the state, highlight disturbing demographic trends, and raise pressing questions requiring immediate policy attention if North Carolina is to remain attractive as a place to live, work, play, and do business.


North Carolina’s population grew more rapidly than the population of the U.S. during the first 15 months of the pandemic (1.1% vs. 0.1%) according to estimates of residential population change and components of change released by the U.S. Census Bureau for the period April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2021, 2022). We use these post-2020 Census population estimates in this essay first, to highlight COVID-19’s impact on the geo-demography of our state; and second, to highlight several disturbing trends and pressing questions that require the immediate attention of state and local community leaders (Johnson, 2020, 2021a; Johnson, Bonds, & Parnell, 2021a,b).


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About the Authors

James H. Johnson, Jr. is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jeanne Milliken Bonds is a Professor of the Practice, Impact Investment and Sustainable Finance in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Department of Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Allan M. Parnell is a Senior Research in the Kenan Institute’s Urban Investment Strategies Center and Vice President of the Mebane, NC-based Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities.

The Kenan Institute fosters mutual understanding between members of the private sector, the academic community, and their government, and to encourage cooperative efforts among these groups.

The Kenan Institute serves as a national center for scholarly research, joint exploration of issues, and course development with the principal theme of preservation, encouragement, and understanding of private enterprise.

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