The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Moore County’s population has now exceeded 100,000, a milestone many expected the county to reach in 2020.
The census of that year found the county’s population to be just over 99,700, below projections fueled by the previous decennial count. But according to the first set of estimates based on the most recent census data, the county’s population grew to 102,763 from April 2020 to July 2021.
A recent report from the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that Moore is one of 73 counties in the state that grew in the 15 months following the 2020 census. county rose 3%, rising faster than the statewide rate of 1%.
“We’ve arrived,” Natalie Hawkins, executive director of economic development group Moore County Partners in Progress, said of the estimated growth in a phone interview. “This is a significant milestone for Moore County to pass 100,000 residents.”
Hawkins, who expected the county’s population to cross the six-figure mark in 2020, said she was not surprised by the latest estimate.
“Just look at the housing that’s going up not just in Southern Pines, Aberdeen and Pinehurst, but also in Vass, Carthage and Seven Lakes,” she said. “There is a real estate boom, no doubt, and I think our real estate market is certainly reflecting that right now.”
As the war in Ukraine and the lingering impacts of the coronavirus have cast uncertainty over the global economic outlook, Hawkins predicted that demand for local housing “will not slow down in the near future”.
“There is obviously concern that the cost of construction, cost of materials and supply chain issues will temper our growth a bit, as well as rising inflation rates,” she said. “But we continue to see a very, very high level of demand for residential products across the county. We see developers coming from out of town who recognize that this is a booming market.
The county’s growth, Hawkins said, is fueled in large part by an influx of military families with ties to nearby Fort Bragg. The base serves more than 55,000 active duty soldiers, making it the largest military installation in the country.
“I don’t think we can deny the fact that service members and their families chose to make Moore County their home because of the quality of life we provide,” Hawkins said. “It’s a really big driving force for us right now, even though this industry isn’t located in Moore County.”
The health care industry, she said, has also played a major role in the county’s growth. Data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce showed more than 9,000 residents had jobs related to ‘health care and social assistance’ in the third quarter of 2021, more than any other labor sector. .
There may be an even simpler explanation for the county’s growth, according to Hawkins.
“I just think the secret is out that Moore County is a great place to live,” she said.