Raleigh and Statistical Area Population

Just in time for the final decision making from Amazon, the OMB just redefined the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA by removing Harnett and Lee Counties and giving them to Fayetteville. This statistically wipes out nearly a half decade of statistical “growth” in the Triangle and puts the CSA just over 2M instead of being within a hair’s breath of 2.2M. On another note, Raleigh’s MSA didn’t receive any new counties in its MSA, while Durham picked up Granville County. So, while Wake County continues to pull the lion’s share of the weight when it comes to the greater central NC growth, it’s Durham and Fayetteville that get “rewarded” statistically.
Some may say that this sort of stuff doesn’t matter, but it does. It’s the quick reference data that’s used all the time in the media and corporate relocation decision making. Thankfully, the change didn’t drop the Triangle under the 2M mark. It will just take the Triangle another 5 years to crack the 2.2M mark.
Lastly, with this CSA change, Wake now accounts for more than half of the Triangle’s statistical population. That percentage will only grow over time as Wake continues to contribute the lion’s share of the growth.

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@John and @dtraleigh

Thank you so much for this information John! :blush:
I am a huge fan of demographics, especially concerning Raleigh and the Triangle. Would y’all consider moving John’s comment and creating a new topic (Raleigh Population)?

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Done. Great Idea! …

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Do you have a link to this info? I don’t see it on the Census website. Either way, I don’t know if I would fret too much. Companies are more likely to look at the CSA total than the MSA total when checking out areas for expansion/relocation. I also wouldn’t discount the possibility of the Fayetteville MSA being absorbed into the Raleigh-Durham CSA by the end of the decade, especially if commuting patterns between the counties continue to grow. That would put a hypothetical Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville CSA well above 2.5 million.

Here’s the link above.

What I keep waiting for is the reunification of the Triangle into one MSA. This would be the best thing for the metro’s visibility, and it would stop the narrative that it’s only a 1.2 million person metro, which isn’t even an updated number for the Raleigh MSA.
I was not expecting to see Durham’s MSA get an additional county, and the Triangle CSA lose two counties. It’s like a one-two punch if you are a Raleighite. It’s made even more frustrating because, as I said, Wake carries the growth for the entire region on its shoulders year in and year out. Wake alone always adds more people than all of the other Triangle counties combined: including those that were recently lost to Fayetteville.
I doubt that the Triangle will ever combine with Fayetteville in the same way that I doubt it will combine with Greensboro. Honestly, I don’t know that I want to combine with Fayetteville. Our economies & cultures don’t feel like a match to me.
I do have hope that the OMB will eventually reunify the Raleigh and Durham MSAs. Until they do, Raleigh’s MSA will continue to prove through numbers that it’s the driving force behind the Triangle’s growth.

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Awesome! My sincerest thanks!

If I may confess my unpopular opinion here, MSA and CSA boundaries are sufficiently arbitrary that they don’t really convey much, if any, useful information. Ditching Harnett and Lee counties kind of makes sense, but adding all of Granville to Durham seems silly. And, as pointed out above, having Raleigh and Durham in separate MSAs really makes no sense at all, and they should really be one area.

But the lesson I draw from all these arbitrary distinctions is that there’s really nothing useful to be learned by looking at an MSA’s or CSA’s population anyway.

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The problem is that others do use this information to compare cities/metros. So, it actually does matter.
Let’s look at a particular comparison: Triangle vs. Nashville. Together, the Raleigh and Durham MSAs have more people on less land than Nashville, yet Nashville is elevated because it’s a singular MSA. Nashville’s metrics benefit from the fact that its designations are quite bloated compared to Raleigh’s and the Triangle’s. Nashville proper has 3X the land area of Raleigh. Its MSA is huge, and its CSA is gigantic. That said, I think that Nashville also lost a county from its MSA this go 'round.
When it comes to talking about HQ2, Nashville get elevated and Raleigh gets diminished due to the nature of the data. This is despite the fact that Raleigh/Triangle have more people in less land area, and Raleigh’s urban area (another metric) is significantly larger than Nashville’s by the latest data set.

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I was just perusing a site with the latest MSA and CSA designations. Interestingly, Durham’s MSA now has more land area than Raleigh’s with the addition of another county. Nonetheless, Raleigh’s MSA has more than double the population of Durham’s. After losing Harnett County, the Triangle’s CSA now sits just north of 2M after previously knocking on the door of 2.2M. So, while Raleigh & Wake have been carrying the majority of the Triangle’s growth on its back for decades, it’s Durham that gets a statistical boost, and the entire Triangle gets diminished. Go figure.
In the new CSA designation, Wake alone accounts for over 53% of the Triangle’s new official population.
https://www.citypopulation.de/php/usa-metro.php
https://www.citypopulation.de/php/usa-combmetro.php

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All very great points John. I’ve always wondered why aren’t the Raleigh & Durham metros combined? We literally have a partnership between our bus systems and they share the same branding and support the inescapable intercity commute between Raleigh n Derm(or Derm to Raleigh).

Interestingly enough, the Raleigh/Durham TV market is ranked 27th in the nation, whereas Nashville is 29th. (Raleigh/Durham did reach 24th 2016 I believe).

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Well, actually, Raleigh and Durham were one MSA until (I think) 2003 when they were split in two. Since then, it seems as if Raleigh has had to endure constant beating down of its stats relative to what’s really going on with the growth. Frankly, it’s insulting.
For example, while Wake Co. is clearly driving the TV market’s growth, it’s Durham to the west and Fayetteville to the south that are statistically benefiting from it.
As for Nashville, the Triangle’s CSA and Nashville’s CSA are in a dead heat in terms of population now, with the Triangle leading Nashville by just a few thousand. Over time, that gap should grow larger as the Triangle (thanks to Wake) is growing faster. Oh, and BTW, the Triangle gets its 2M population in less than 2/3 the land area of greater Nashville.

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FWIW, I found this explanation from Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau

http://www.dcvb-nc.com/cr/WHY_DURHAM_AND_RALEIGH_ARE_MARKETED_INDIVIDUALLY.pdf

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Analysis of visitor behavior reveals that less than 1% of visitors to Durham or Raleigh overlap a visit to both
destinations on the same trip.

Interesting

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I don’t think that it’s a secret that Durham really pushed to have their own metro area. I don’t know specifics, but I seem to remember reading about the topic years ago.

I thought that the below website was helpful…thoughts?

:grinning:

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I’m a total geek for this sort of data. Thanks!
Unfortunately, the Triangle LOST counties to Fayetteville in the latest realignment of CSAs. I think that we lost both Harnett and Lee Counties. This dropped the Triangle’s population by nearly 200,000 to just barely over 2Million.

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@John that site you’re linking to is showing population estimates from 2017, not the ACS numbers which the census.gov site itself says is the premiere source for detailed population and housing data.

I’m curious as to why you are using those numbers when @DowntownRaleighGuy linked a site that has the last official ACS numbers I can find.

Can you help me understand?

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MSAs and CSAs were redefined in 2018. In the new designations, the CSA lost counties, while the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA actually gained a county. Raleigh’s MSA was unchanged.
Census numbers are delayed by a year. The best we have for the new CSA and MSA designation is to map the boundaries to the 2017 estimates. We will have 2018 estimates coming out this year.

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It’s a complete farce that the Triangle area isn’t a single statistical area. Everyone knows the area as Raleigh-Durham. Each city would not be as large without the other. RTP, RDU - are regional entities that illustrate the point.

So crazy when they divided the area into two regions.

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Statistically, Raleigh’s MSA by itself is “peers” with Louisville, Richmond, Memphis, and Oklahoma City.
In combination, the Triangle is peers with Nashville, Austin, Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

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