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Originally published: 2014-03-29 15:04:36
Last modified: 2014-03-29 15:10:31

Watauga population growing, but slower

by Anna Oakes

Watauga County's population continues to increase, but the rate of growth is slowing compared with previous years, the U.S. Census Bureau suggests.

The federal agency last week released 2013 county/metro and micro area population estimates for North Carolina, which provide an estimate of these populations on July 1, 2013.

Watauga County was home to 52,372 residents on that date, the Census said -- with 266 more residents than in 2012, an increase of a half percent.
The previous year, the county added an estimated 506 residents, representing nine-tenths of a percent increase, and the Census estimated 600 more residents between 2010 and 2011, which would have been a 1.1 percent increase.

The 2010 Census, however, revealed that Watauga County's population grew by 19.6 percent since the last Census in 2000, a rate that exceeded the agency's annual estimates and projections.

Watauga's neighbors experienced even slower rates of growth, and some populations are in decline, according to the estimates.

Ashe County's population decreased from 27,160 to 27,151 from 2012 to 2013, while Avery County grew from 17,633 to 17,713. Following several years of declining numbers, Caldwell's population may have rebounded somewhat, with an estimated population of 81,954 in 2012 growing to an estimated 81,990 in 2013. Wilkes County had an estimated 69,023 residents last year, down from 69,208 in 2012.