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Clayton, North Carolina
Official seal of Clayton, North Carolina
"The Premier Community for Active Families"
Location of Clayton, North Carolina
Location of Clayton, North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina is located in North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina is located in the United States
Clayton, North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina
Location in the United States
Country United States
State North Carolina
Counties Johnston, Wake
Established 1868
 • Total 15.16 sq mi (39.27 km2)
 • Land 15.14 sq mi (39.22 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
341 ft (104 m)
 • Total 16,116
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,643.68/sq mi (634.63/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
27520, 27527
Area code(s) 919
FIPS code 37-12860
GNIS feature ID 1019689

Clayton is a town in Johnston County, North Carolina, United States, and is considered a satellite town of Raleigh. As of 2010, Clayton's population was 16,116, up from 6,973 at the 2000 census. By 2019 the town's estimated population was 24,887. Much of that growth can be attributed to the town's proximity to the Research Triangle area and access to major highways such as I-40 and US 70.


The community which has grown into the Town of Clayton was built on a road cut by Governor Tryon’s troops around 1770 as they marched North from New Bern to Hillsborough against the Regulators. Nearly 100 years later the railroad came through and the community had its first name—Stallings’ Station, since the depot for the North Carolina Railroad was in the home of Mrs. Sarah Stallings. The name lasted only three years, however before officially becoming Clayton. Incorporation followed in 1869.

The new town was far from prosperous, and the Civil War made a depressed local economy even worse. Many long-time citizens moved away during that period.

But, following the war, the railroad was extended and businesses began to pop up. Ashley Horne developed a successful farming and merchandising business to become one of the most successful merchants and manufacturers in all of North Carolina. Horne’s success inspired two other men, McCullers and Barbour, to open businesses that also did well, beginning an era of growth that lasted well into the next century. Some of the businesses that flourished during that time were lumber plants, a brick kiln, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a sawmill, tobacco warehouses, cotton mills and a turpentine distillery.

By the early 1900s, the town had become a major market for cotton, watermelons and tobacco. In 1907, the Raleigh Evening Times of nearby Raleigh wrote that there was “more money per capita in Clayton than any city its size in the world”.

Unfortunately, the town lost its financial eminence in the 1930s with the onset of the Great Depression, and its population grew slowly for the next forty years. The three local cotton mills continued to be a major source of jobs during that time, with 1,000 employees, but the local economy was modest and cotton was soon on its way out. By the early 1960s the mills were gone and cotton was no longer a player in the local economy. But the tobacco industry was bustling and the population shot up for a while before settling back down as farming became less and less profitable.

The state began to change during the 1970s. An industrial base began taking shape and residential growth was increasing in the Raleigh area nearby. Clayton’s workforce adapted, shifting to a more service/trades-oriented economy and the town began to grow once again. By 1980, the population had grown to 4,091 and to 4,756 by 1990. The population then jumped to 6,973 in the year 2000 census. Today, manufacturers like Caterpillar and bio-pharmaceutical companies like Grifols (formerly Talecris) and Novo Nordisk are big local employers. In 2010, the population had increased to 16,116.

The Clayton Banking Company Building, Clayton Graded School and Clayton Grammar School-Municipal Auditorium, Clayton Historic District, Cleveland School, Ellington-Ellis Farm, Walter R. and Eliza Smith Moore House, Sanders-Hairr House, and Stallings-Carpenter House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 352
1890 478 35.8%
1900 754 57.7%
1910 1,441 91.1%
1920 1,423 −1.2%
1930 1,533 7.7%
1940 1,711 11.6%
1950 2,229 30.3%
1960 3,302 48.1%
1970 3,103 −6.0%
1980 4,091 31.8%
1990 4,756 16.3%
2000 6,973 46.6%
2010 16,116 131.1%
2020 26,307 63.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Clayton racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 14,522 55.2%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 6,097 23.18%
Native American 78 0.3%
Asian 407 1.55%
Pacific Islander 7 0.03%
Other/Mixed 1,440 5.47%
Hispanic or Latino 3,756 14.28%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 26,307 people, 7,488 households, and 5,294 families residing in the town.

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 16,116 residents living within the Town of Clayton. There were 5,944 households, with an average of 2.57 persons per household. The population density was 1,192.8 inhabitants per square mile (460.5/km2) with an inventory of 6,648 housing units at an average density of 492 per square mile (190/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 69.5% White, 21.8% African American, 10.7% Hispanic or Latino 0.4% American Indian, 1.4% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander.

Of the 5,944 households in the 2010 census, 44% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30% were non-families. 25.4% of non-family households were made up of householders living alone. 16.3% of households had individuals 65 years of age or older.

The age demographics of the 2010 census determined that 32.9% were under the age of 19, 4.9% were aged 20 to 24, 32.8% aged 25 to 44, 20.8% aged 45 to 64, and 8.5% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.9 years. Females made up 52.5% of the population while males made up 47.5% of the population.

The median income for a household in the town was $53,101, and the median income for a family was $64,856. Males had a median income of $46,108 versus $40,839 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,234. These figures put Town of Clayton well ahead of the North Carolina averages for the same categories.


  • Clayton High School (Home of the Comets)
  • Clayton Middle School (Home of the Eagles)
  • Cooper Academy (Home of the Rockets)
  • Cleveland Elementary School (Home of the Rams)
  • East Clayton Elementary School (Home of the Explorers)
  • Powhatan Elementary School (Home of the Pride)
  • River Dell Elementary School (Home of the Racers)
  • Riverwood Elementary School (Home of the Rams)
  • Riverwood Middle School (Home of the Ravens)
  • West Clayton Elementary School (Home of the Bulldogs)

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clayton (Carolina del Norte) para niños

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