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Your new neighbors may have come from a lot farther than you think, census data show

People flocked to Mecklenburg County from nearly 600 counties around the country in the past five years, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show, and from nearly every state.
People flocked to Mecklenburg County from nearly 600 counties around the country in the past five years, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show, and from nearly every state. Observer file photo

Residents of Mecklenburg County continue to mingle with people from even more places around the country, new census estimates show.

Newcomers to Mecklenburg County came from 575 counties in a recent five-year span – that’s a 10 percent hike from the previous five years, according to an Observer analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

They arrived from the likes of Alachua County, Fla., (home to an odd sinkhole that’s part of a state park) to York County, S.C., and York County, Va., where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington after the Battle of Yorktown.

The details are in census estimates in the American Community Survey, which asked people what county they lived in the prior year. The Observer analyzed the new five-year estimates covering 2011-15, as well as estimates from 2006-2010.

Bob Coats, the governor’s liaison to the Census Bureau, said the overall trend for Mecklenburg has been steady net growth over the years. “What Mecklenburg is seeing is just a continued validation of the planning and the economic strength of the area that continues to be appealing to a large number of people,” Coats said.

Overall, Mecklenburg remains the largest county in the Carolinas, with an estimated population of more than 1.05 million, census estimates show.

Outside of the Carolinas, the states sending the most people to Mecklenburg County were all along the East Coast: New York, Florida, Virginia, Georgia and New Jersey. Still, Mecklenburg drew from counties in every state except Hawaii. But because these are estimates, it’s still possible someone from Hawaii said Aloha and moved here.

And people from some disparate place are increasingly attracted to the area.

For instance, counties such as Maricopa, Ariz., (home to the Hall of Flame Fire Museum in Phoenix), Hudson, N.J., (Frank Sinatra’s birthplace) and Bronx, N.Y., (where they named a street in honor of stickball) now send more than twice as many people to Mecklenburg as they did a decade ago, according to census estimates.

Elsewhere, the allure has faded a bit.

Around a decade ago, some 1,300 people moved from Broward County, Fla., to Mecklenburg. In fact, more residents migrated from the coastal Florida county – home to Fort Lauderdale – than any county outside the Carolinas, data show. But the flow from Broward to Mecklenburg has dropped 75 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

A similar slowdown happened to Queens County, N.Y, which now sends about 100 transplants a year to Mecklenburg compared to 750 a decade ago.

Other highlights from the census data include:

▪ The counties that sent the most residents to Mecklenburg recently: Union, Gaston, Wake, Cabarrus and Guilford. Conversely, Mecklenburg residents moved most often to Union, Cabarrus, York, S.C., Gaston and Wake counties.

▪ People in three-fourths of North Carolina’s 100 counties moved to Mecklenburg.

▪ Neighboring York County, S.C., remains the top county outside of North Carolina that both sends people to and attracts people from Mecklenburg County.

▪ Finally, one of the top counties outside of North Carolina that people left Mecklenburg for over the past five years is Harris County, Texas, home to Houston and the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

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