Are they really “relocated Yankees”?

For an assignment last year, I crunched some numbers about migration to Wake County –as of this year, North Carolina’s most populous county thanks to plentiful in-migration. Three interesting findings:
1. Contrary to common perception, just under half of movers to Wake County are “Yankees” (moving from states north of the Mason-Dixon). Most out-state movers arrive from other largely suburban counties.
2. The largest sending counties to Wake are nearby rural or mill-town counties (consistent with “migration potential” theory), since the South in general is still rapidly urbanizing. North Carolina was still majority-rural until the 1970s. (Urban/rural population from 1900-1990 and 1990-2000 [xls], or 1970-2010 [html]. Note that North Carolina in 2000 was as urbanized as Illinois in 1910.)
3. Within the Triangle, the metropolitan migration dynamic (larger households flow to the periphery, smaller households towards the center) appears to place Durham & Orange at the center, Wake at both center and periphery, and the exurbs at the periphery.

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4 thoughts on “Are they really “relocated Yankees”?

  1. I stumbled across your photos from an article about the View restaurant in Minneapolis. I couldn’t stop looking at them. They touched and intrigued me. You have a wonderful gift. Keep it up!

  2. A quick look at Atlanta:

    Based on Census 2000 numbers, 16.2% of Georgians — nearly 1.33 million people — would have to move from rural to urban areas for that state to match Illinois’ urbanization rate. Southern cities still has a lot of growth potential left just in attracting people from the countryside. And they are: between 1950-1990, the rural to urban population shift in Georgia was 2.5X as fast as in Illinois. (The urban share grew by 40%, going from 45% urban in 1950 to 63% urban in 1990 — increasing by 0.45 percentage points a year.) Georgia in 1990 was as urban as Illinois before World War 1.

    And, like what I’d previously found for Raleigh, most domestic migration to Georgia came from elsewhere in the South. Only 30% of IRS filers moving to Georgia between 2007 and 2008, prime housing bubble years, moved from states north of the Mason-Dixon (only 3% from Illinois); fully 56% moved from other states in the former Confederacy. If anything, this would overstate the number of Yankee movers — local movers are generally poorer than long-distance movers, and thus less likely to file tax returns.

    This notion that Atlanta is being flooded with Northerners (regardless of their reasons) has only a tenuous basis in fact. About half of metro Atlanta’s population growth comes from net migration; if the 2007-2008 IRS numbers for Georgia are applied to the metro’s growth from 2000-2009,* only 10.5% of the total growth consists of people moving from the North — less than the 17.5% that move from abroad, while two-thirds of Atlanta’s population growth consists of Southerners moving to or being born there.

    * (Haven’t accounted for in-state moves, and the years are different.)

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  4. Count urban Floridians and DC/Marylanders as Yankees, since most of them have their heritage in the north. Moving those areas to the north would revise the ratio toward Yankees moving into NC. I am a Tarheel who went north for employment and retired back to my home state. There will be a large influx of military and Civil Servants in the 2010s decade, because federal employees in the later 1980s are exempt from NC state income tax on their retirement pay. That tax advantage will expire after the next few years as fewer 1980s Civil Servants remain..

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