Aug 10, 2023 - News

How the pandemic shifted the geography of incomes in N.C.

Net change in income from migration, 2020 to 2021
Reproduced from EIG; Map: Axios Visuals

When millions of Americans rethought their living situations in the pandemic, their moves changed the geography of where money is made in the United States, Axios' Neil Irwin writes.

Why it matters: High-earners left cities like San Francisco, New York and Boston and brought their incomes to Sun Belt States, rural counties and popular vacation destinations, according to a new analysis of tax data by the Economic Innovation Group.

By the numbers: Wake County, for example, added $416 million in income from newcomers between 2020 and 2021 — a 1.6% increase from in-migration.

  • The average income of newcomers to Wake during that period was $80,400.

The increases in suburban counties were much larger, with Chatham County seeing adjusted gross income grow 10.7% and Franklin County growing 8.7%.

Counties along the Carolina coast and in the Blue Ridge Mountains saw the sharpest growth.

  • On the coast, Brunswick County's adjusted growth income grew 26.2% from in-migration.
  • In the mountains, Avery County's income grew 13.6% from in-migrations.

What's next: The data only covers 2021, so it doesn't shed light on 2022 and what's happened so far this year.

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