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]. 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.
Full presentation (1MB PDF)