North Carolina was one of the nation’s fastest-growing states last year, according to a Census Bureau report. Only Arizona, Utah and Texas grew at a faster pace.

North Carolina gained nearly 181,000 residents from July 2007 to July 2008, a 2 percent gain. With more than 9.2 million people, it remained the nation’s 10th-largest state.

South Carolina, with 4.5 million residents, was ranked 10th in growth, up 1.7 percent over the previous year.

Although the Census data didn’t offer a racial breakdown of newcomers, North Carolina has seen an influx of African Americans moving to some of its larger cities, including Charlotte and the Raleigh-Durham area.

Many of the new arrivals have come seeking professional jobs in the popular Sunbelt. Others are retirees who left the South as part of the black migration north in the 1950s and ‘60s and are now returning.

Only two states – Michigan and Rhode Island – lost population from 2007 to 2008.

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