Where are people moving to Charlotte from? And where do they go when they leave?

Workers load furniture into the moving truck at a south Charlotte home Friday, Nov. 28, 2014.
Workers load furniture into the moving truck at a south Charlotte home Friday, Nov. 28, 2014.

It's one of the most common questions in a fast-growing city like Charlotte: Where are all these people coming from?

While estimates vary (Is it 44 or 60 people a day coming here? Or more than 100?), no one disputes the growth.

Mecklenburg County's population increased last year by 19,600 residents, hitting almost 1.08 million. That figure, of course, also includes births, not just in-migration.

Another big question in a city known for its transplants: Where do people go when they leave?

Data from the U.S. Census county-to-county population flows sheds some light on these comings and goings. And while it sometimes feels like Charlotte is a southern suburb of New York, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, the data shows some surprises.

The most common origin for people moving to Mecklenburg County: other counties in the Carolinas.

Wake, Cabarrus, Union, Gaston and Guilford counties all sent more than 2,000 new residents to Mecklenburg per year, according to estimates compiled using the census data for 2012-2015, the most recent available. Some counties in New York and the upper Midwest also sent several hundred per year (almost 500 a year from Erie County, home of Buffalo, N.Y., for example).

And when people leave Mecklenburg, they also tend to stick to the Carolinas. Union County receives the most residents from Mecklenburg, an average of almost 4,200 per year. Cabarrus County receives almost 3,900. That means that although those counties send thousands of residents to Mecklenburg, on average more move there than relocate to Charlotte every year, for a net outflow.

Check out the map below showing the population flows and see whether your perceptions match the reality of people coming and going in Charlotte.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; @esportillo