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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Prescribing policy that leads to prosperity for the urban disadvantaged.



In 2022, in-migration slowed, and out-migration accelerated, reducing the role of net migration in North Carolina statewide population growth, according to recently released Census data. For the Tarheel state, we document changes in gross and net migration flows between 2021 and 2022, highlight possible drivers, and offer anecdotal evidence as to why the revealed changes may foreshadow a longer- term shift in migration’s role in statewide population change.

North Carolina’s 100 counties have experienced an uneven pattern of growth and development over the past decade or so, even during the pandemic, when the state was a magnet for migration. At one end, metropolitan and amenity-rich counties captured most of the growth between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021; at the other, 21 counties experienced net out-migration. Given these disparities, the Urban Investment Strategies Center offers an approach using targeted economic development strategies.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Within two months, nearly half a million people fled hard-hit New York City. Will they return once the crisis has passed? In this Kenan Insight, we explore how the ongoing pandemic is raising questions about the future attractiveness of large cities as places to live and do business.

History informs us that some people, especially the wealthy, typically flee cities in response
to pandemics and other major catastrophes.  Media accounts and preliminary empirical
research suggest that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Nearly a half
million people reportedly fled hard-hit New York City within two months of the World Health
Organization declaring the coronavirus disease a global pandemic.Some coronavirus pandemic refugees headed to nearby suburbs, others headed to second homes and vacation spots in other states, and still others moved back home to live with parents.

Immigrants are once again the targets of draconian policymaking. It is during the COVID-19 pandemic this time. Through a series of presidential proclamations and other executive branch maneuvers, the Trump Administration is attempting to leverage a host of so-called migration management tools to ban entry and force some immigrant to leave the country—all under the guise of containing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting American jobs.

This research brief uses data from the 2014-2015 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) migration file to quantify the dividend North Carolina receives from recent movers to the state. We calculate the dividend as the differences in per capita adjusted gross income from those who moved to North Carolina (in-migrants) relative to those who were already living in the state (non-migrants) and relative to those who moved from the state (out-migrants). The dividends from migrants ages 55 and older, especially those settling in eight migration magnet counties (Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe, New Hanover, Brunswick, Cabarrus, and Johnston), are significant. This migration constitutes a strategic opportunity for both business development and job creation in North Carolina communities.

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