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Cape Fear 2020: Looking at NC's incoming demographics

WILMINGTON -- Throughout our Cape Fear 2020 series we've focused a lot of attention on the vast number of people coming to North Carolina. But just who is moving here and why? Retired political science professor Ralph Kornegay said, "Through the 1960s and 1970s growth had either stagnated or was very slight. And then all of a sudden we were discovered." Many who come here are retirees. In fact, predictions show that the median age of people living in the tri-county area will increase by 2020. Some retirees come from northern states like New York and New Jersey. But that's not always the case. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said, "We're finding in our projections of people retiring, the vast majority of people moving here to retire are coming from within our state." We're also seeing one of the largest demographic shifts in the country's history since World War II of people who are moving from the north to the south. But some come here from Florida -- retirees who decided the sunshine state was too hot and too expensive. Retired political science professor Kornegay calls them "half-backs." But while retirees came here, another phenomenon occurred. "What happened was, these grandparents moved here, children came down, saw it, liked it, they moved here with their children," Kornegay said. By 2010, New Hanover County is projected to have more than 200,000 people; Brunswick more than 110,000; Pender 55,000; Bladen 33,000; and Columbus 55,000. By 2020, those numbers jump, most dramatically in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties. When you talk about North Carolina's demographics you have to consider both legal citizens and illegal aliens. North Carolina's illegal alien population is estimated at 300,000. This makes North Carolina home to the nation's eighth largest population of undocumented immigrants. Since they are not factored into census data, predictions of racial makeup will only take into account whites and non-whites. And by 2020 the racial makeup of New Hanover County will not change significantly, even as more and more people move to the area. Coming up on Thursday NewsChannel 3 will be taking a closer look at the issue of undocumented immigrants in North Carolina, and how they could change the demographic landscape in the future.

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