According to U.S. Census estimates, many counties in Western North Carolina saw declining population numbers from 2010 to 2011.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released county and metropolitan/micropolitan population estimates for July 1, 2011 — the first sub-state estimates since the 2010 Census.
Among High Country counties, Watauga County was the lone county estimated to have gained residents, increasing 254 residents from the April 1, 2010, population of 51,079 to an estimated count of 51,333 on July 1, 2011, a growth rate of half a percent.
Avery County lost an estimated 225 residents during that time frame, declining from the 2010 population of 17,797 to 17,572 in 2011. That's a 1.3 percent rate of decline. Ashe County also experienced a departure of residents, dropping an estimated 138 residents to 27,143 in 2011, down from 27,281 in 2010 — a 0.5 percent decrease.
Alleghany, Wilkes, Caldwell and Mitchell counties also saw slight declines in estimated population counts, ranging from 0.5 to 0.9 percent decreases.