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From 7 May 2024, The North East Evidence Hub is a project of the North East Combined Authority. We may still refer to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (or "the LEP") in some of our news articles.

How well do you know the North East population? Ten facts about where people live in the North East

Eddie Smith, Economic Analyst at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), discusses the latest regional population data published on the North East Evidence Hub

In 2022, the North East population was close to two million

According to the latest official population estimates, the North East population was 1,994,284 in mid-2022. Given that the population has recently been increasing, it is likely that the current total is now above two million. A recent administrative-based experimental estimate suggested that this happened in the year to mid-2023.

More than one in four of the North East population live in County Durham

The County Durham population made up about 26.5% of the area's total in mid-2022. It was more than 200,000 higher than the population in any of the other six local authority areas.

Northumberland, Newcastle and Sunderland have similar numbers of residents

The populations of these three areas made up about 45% of the North East population in 2022, respectively, about 16%, 15% and 14% of the total. South Tyneside had the smallest population in the area (about 7.5% of the total) with a combination of North Tyneside and Gateshead home to the remaining 21%.

The number of people in the North East aged 20 in 2022 was higher than for any other single year of age

The total population aged 19 was the third highest and, together, these highlight how the presence of four universities in the North East influences the age structure of the population.

The ages from 55 to 60 had the highest populations outside of the student age group

This reflects high birth rates in the early to mid-1960s.  The number of 45- to 50-year-olds in 2022 was about a fifth lower. The high birth rate in 1946/47 is also reflected in the estimates, with a particularly large number of 75-year-olds.

North East population growth in the latest year was much faster than at any point in the last three decades

The annual increase of almost 25,200 to mid-2022 represented a 1.3% rise in the North East population. This was two and a half times higher than the next largest annual percentage rise in the past 30 years. It was also above the percentage increase for England excluding London for the only year in this period.

Apart from in the latest year, recent North East population growth has been much lower than nationally

In the ten years to 2022, the North East population increased by 3.1%, compared to a 6.8% increase in England excluding London. Population growth has varied within the North East, with Newcastle’s 9.5% increase contrasting with Gateshead’s population decrease.

In the decade to 2022, the North East population would have decreased without net in-migration

Both internal in-migration (from elsewhere in the UK) and international in-migration were higher than the equivalent levels of out-migration between 2012 and 2022.  The resulting population increase contrasted with the decrease due to higher numbers of deaths than births over the decade.  The number of deaths between mid-2019 and mid-2022 was particularly high, about 9% above the previous three-year total.

International in-migration drove the very high North East population increase in the latest year

Between mid-2021 to mid-2022, there were large population increases due to international in-migration among people aged 16 to 34. This was accompanied by smaller increases among children and 35- to 44-year-olds. There were also increases due to internal in-migration among 16- to 24-year-olds and, to a lesser extent, among older working age people (35 to 64).

The pre-2021 North East population has been revised downwards

The results of the 2021 census suggested that the population of the area had been over estimated in the previous years. The latest data retrospectively revises these totals, with the 2020 estimate being over 40,000 lower than previously estimated. Much of the over estimation had been among the 18 to 30 age group.


The latest estimates provide a reminder of how large the resident population of County Durham is compared to other North East local authority areas.  Other sources such as workplace employment data highlight that many County Durham residents commute to other parts of the North East to work, so transport provision for these workers and for equivalent journeys in other areas is key to the growth of the local economy.

The estimates also highlight that the North East has a large population of working age people who are due to reach state pension age over the next decade or so. Replacing retired workers in this age group will be a challenge for businesses in the area.

The area’s population would be decreasing without in-migration from elsewhere in the UK or from overseas. The in-migration of students for study has recently been accompanied by in-migration among older age groups. Whether and how these trends continue will shape how the North East economy and society changes. 

The retrospective reduction in the pre-census North East population estimates will feed through into amendments to other historic data, including employment totals and rates. Information in the evidence hub will be updated when the changes are published.

The evidence hub includes more detail about these statistics on the population estimates page and the population change page

Author Organisation

Eddie Smith

Author Contact

Eddie Smith, Economic Analyst

Additional Information