Up Next

Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
News & Media
Oct 4, 2019

North Carolina’s Regions of Migration

By Huan Lian, Data Analyst, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

North Carolina is one of the major migration destinations in the U.S. A newly created dashboard that uses 2015-2016 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) county-to-county migration data provides key insights into both the origins and economic characteristics of recent newcomers to the Tar Heel State. In this blog post, we’ll highlight net migration flows into the top two destinations – Mecklenburg County (housing the metro Charlotte area) and Wake County (the metro Raleigh area).

Between 2015 and 2016, 34,534 tax filers moved in and 30,262 tax filers moved out of Mecklenburg County, for a net gain of 4,282 taxpaying households. A significant proportion of the in-migrants were from counties in the Southeast, Northeast, and West, and they brought substantial migration dividends to the area. A migration dividend occurs when per capita adjusted gross income (AGI) of in-migrants is greater than the per capita income of people who already live in an area (non-migrants). The dividend ranged from a low of $294 for in-migrants from Alexandria, Virginia to a high of $77,198 for newcomers from San Francisco, California.

Wake County, one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties, enjoyed a net influx of 4,902 taxpaying households between 2015 and 2016. Compared to non-mover per capita AGI ($41,538), the typical newcomer household AGI was $48,733, bringing a $7,195 migration dividend into the county. The largest migration dividends came from people moving to Wake County from metropolitan areas in other states. The per capita AGI of transplants from San Mateo County, California and New York County, New York, for example, were $82,082 and $79,729, respectively – both much higher than the typical Wake County household.

The dashboard below allows you to interactively explore gross and net migration flows for all U.S. counties. Simply type a county name in the left-side search box and the county will be highlighted on the map. Hover over the county to see the total number of in-migrants, out-migrants, net-migrants, and non-migrants. Clicking on the county will display statistics for all origin and destination counties with 20 or more migrants in the table below the map. Click on a table header and choose one of the sort icons to sort the number of migrants, per capita AGI, or migration dividend/loss in ascending or descending order. Hover over the map, and you can use the controls that appear to zoom the map in or out. Zooming out will allow you to examine Alaska and Hawaii.

For more research on North Carolina’s migration, see this white paper and this Institute Insights video from James Johnson director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

You may also be interested in: