Lee and Harnett counties are among 16 North Carolina counties that recorded more births than deaths between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new estimates from the US Census Bureau.
However, Lee, Harnett, Moore and Chatham counties all experienced population growth.
The difference was narrow in Lee County with only about 80 more births than deaths, but most noticeable in Harnett County, which had 632 more births. In contrast, Moore County recorded 348 more deaths than births and Chatham County recorded 417 more deaths than births.
According to an analysis by Carolina Demography at the University of North Carolina, the state experienced “natural decline” for the first time (more deaths than births); net migration was the only source of growth for the year.
The migration of people has been good for Lee, Harnett, Moore, and Chatham counties and for the state as a whole. North Carolina increased by 112,000 people, or 1.1%, between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.
Lee County gained 1.3%, adding 853 residents to a total of 64,138. Moore County grew 3%, bringing the county’s population from over 100,000 to 102,763. Chatham County gained 1,604 residents, an increase of 2.1%. According to the figures, the population of Chatham County now stands at 77,889. Harnett County also grew by nearly 2,400 residents, a jump of 1.8%. Census figures showed Harnett County with a population of about 135,966.
According to statistics, 79 of North Carolina’s counties gained residents during the period.
Two of North Carolina counties hardest hit by COVID-19 – Mecklenburg and Durham – have taken in large numbers of foreigners but far more local residents have left, with Mecklenburg losing nearly 1,000 residents in total and Durham losing losing more than 300.
This contrasts sharply with the long-term growth trend of these two counties, said Carolina Demography.
“These emigrations contributed to slowing the growth of Mecklenburg (0.6%) and Durham (0.4%); both counties grew more slowly than the state as a whole. This contrasts with their ranking of population growth over the past decade,” the analysis states.
The counties with the fastest growth from April 2020 to July 2021 were Brunswick (5.5%) and Pender (4.3%), near Wilmington; Currituck (5.5%) and Camden (4.6%) south of Norfolk, Virginia; and Johnston (4.9%) and Franklin (4.6%), east of Raleigh.