Annual ‘Charlotte Data Day’ focuses on regional, national trends

Just because the Charlotte region is awash in demographic change doesn’t mean it’s easy to make sense of all the data.

So the organizers of the third annual “Charlotte Data Day” held a two-day conference Tuesday and Wednesday to show people new and easier ways to decipher the information. The conference was sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which has a Charlotte branch.

We want to make data more accessible...so it’s not just for policy wonks.

UNCC Urban Institute Director Jeff Michael

The goal, said Urban Institute Director Jeff Michael, was to help educators, community activists, government workers and others better utilize the information. “We want to make data more accessible ... so it’s not just for policy wonks,” he said.

About 160 people registered to attend Wednesday’s conference at UNC Charlotte, which featured several speakers who looked at local and national trends, including:

▪ Immigration: The growth rate of Charlotte’s Latino population topped 800 percent between 1980 and 2000, which was “Hispanic hypergrowth,” said Claire Schuch, a doctoral candidate at UNCC’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences. And North Carolina’s 274 percent growth rate between 1990 and 2000 of people born in another country was the biggest in the United States.

▪ Aging: For now, the biggest concentrations of the 65-and-older population in North Carolina are in the western and eastern ends of the state, Jamie Strickland said. She is a UNCC senior lecturer in the Geography Department. But she expects to see such growth in the older population increase in the Charlotte region as well.

▪ Millennials: The 75 million 18-to-34-year-olds known as millennials are poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in size sometime this year, said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. Millennials are also the largest group in the workforce and in the next few years will also have the most electoral clout.

Compared with previous generations, Fry said, millennials are more diverse, less likely to be married as young adults and are completing college at record levels. “Millennials are the best-educated generation we ever had,” he said.

But don’t get too jealous of the millennials. Joining the workforce after the latest recession meant that they also had higher unemployment rates and stayed jobless longer than previous generations coming out of challenging economic times, Fry said.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell