Jan 7, 2024 - Things to Do

North Carolina is filled with Yankees — maybe more than you think

Wegmans grocery store Morrisville

Wegmans grocery store Morrisville. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

If you live in any of North Carolina’s largest metro areas, you probably know of plenty of folks who’ve moved here from New York. In fact, more North Carolina transplants were born in New York than in any other state.

What’s happening: Turns out, Mecklenburg has the largest share of New York transplants of any other county in North Carolina, according to figures from Carolina Demography at UNC Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center, using census data. The county is home to 87,749 people who were born in New York.

  • Wake County has the second most with 78,749 New York natives. But if you combine that number with Orange and Durham counties, the Triangle as a whole would be No. 1, Nathan Dollar, director of Carolina Demography, tells Axios.
  • Counties with the next largest shares include Guilford, Forsyth and Harnett.

Why it matters: Migration into North Carolina accounts for a whopping 91% of the state’s growth, per Carolina Demography. People move here for a host of reasons — from cost of living to jobs to weather. Whatever the case, they affect North Carolina’s economy, politics, culture and way of life.

  • During the pandemic, families and individuals from New York City flocked to Charlotte seeking a balance between city life and suburbia, Axios’ Bri Crane reported.

What they’re saying: “People come from different parts of the country with different ideas, different cultural norms and languages. That certainly changes who we are as a state,” Dollar says.

Zoom out: We see vestiges of New York all over North Carolina, from the emergence of and affinity for the Rochester grocery chain Wegmans to New York-style bagel spots.

By the numbers: Last year, 5,447 people who moved to Mecklenburg County were from New York. In Durham County, there were 4,737 domestic migrants from New York.

The big picture: Throughout North Carolina, 46% of all residents were born outside North Carolina — accounting for nearly 5 million people, according to Carolina Demography. Of those, about 10% (about 518,000 people) were born in New York, the leading birthplace of those born outside North Carolina. 

  • By comparison, in 1980, about 23% of residents were born outside North Carolina.
  • The figures underscore how migration into North Carolina has soared in recent decades.

The next nine leading birthplaces for those born outside North Carolina: Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio and Georgia.

  • So, it’s not just your imagination: There are tons of New Yorkers in North Carolina, but this state’s also filled with folks from Richmond, Philly and Cleveland.
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