The surging South

Date posted: May 10, 2011

One economist recently said that people equal power when it comes to business and commerce. When we look at how different regions of the country have changed in population during recent decades, what does this say about the economic clout of those regions? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden weighs in.

“Well, it says … that the South has really gained clout, because we’ve gained population. For example, in 1980, one third of the U.S. population was in the South. Now it’s just shy of 40 percent at 37 percent.

“So we have grown here in the South in population faster than other regions in the country have grown.

“Also the ethnic composition of our southern population has changed. For example, in 1980, 74 percent of residents were white; 19 percent, black; and 6 percent were Hispanic. Today, or at least based on the 2010 census, 60 percent are white, 19 percent are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. So the black percentage stayed the same.

“What’s happened is the white percentage has gone down, and the Hispanic percentage has gone up. So, we are becoming a more ethnically diverse population as well as a population with a greater share of the total country.”

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