2020 Census data for Asheville, NC

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Photo by @berne182

The 2020 Census results are in, and the growth is real. Asheville’s population now stands at 94,589 residents, up 13.4% from 2010, according to new data.

In other words, the number of new folks (11,196) equates to nearly 3 times the capacity of McCormick Field, where the Asheville Tourists play.

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A decade’s worth of population change in 16 WNC counties. I Graphic courtesy of Rich Lee

Why is this happening now?

Every 10 years, the US Census Bureau collects nationwide population and demographic data, which is used to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines + determine federal spending.

What did we find?

  • Buncombe’s total housing units — occupied + unoccupied houses, condos, apartments, and mobile homes — increased 13.9%, from 113,365 to almost 129,141 + 90% of all housing is occupied.

    • The growth spurs beyond Asheville: Buncombe County’s population grew 12.9% over the past decade, bringing the total population to 269,500 residents. Additionally, Haywood County’s population jumped 5.1%, from 59,036 residents to 62,089.
    • Madison County’s population grew 2.1% from 20,764 in 2010 to 21,193.
  • Henderson County’s population grew 9.2% from 106,740 to 116,530.
  • In comparison, WNC’s other 16 counties netted 14,772 combined in population growth.

Why does this matter?

Redistricting, or the process of redrawing council and school districts, is completed every 10 years after the US Census is finalized. New voting district boundaries must be balanced by population and follow traditional redistricting criteria.

Since Asheville City Council voted in 2019 to continue at-large city council elections, the census data will not impact those future elections. However, the census data may impact the 3 districts represented by Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners, as well as the 6 districts of the Buncombe County Board of Education.

Additionally, because North Carolina’s population grew by more than 9%, the state will gain a 14th congressional district. While it’s not clear yet where that district will be, Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper predicts the new addition will end up shifting the borders of WNC’s 11th congressional district that’s currently represented by Madison Cawthorn.

Stay tuned as both Buncombe and the rest of the state plan to finalize the process in late 2021 or early 2022.

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