RALEIGH, NC (Abbie Bennett/ News & Observer) - More than 40 percent of people living in North Carolina were not born in the Tar Heel state, according to data recently released by UNC Carolina Population Center demographers.
The percentage of the state's total population not born in North Carolina continues to rise, according to the center. Recent estimates from the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 43 percent of the overall population is non-native, up 1 percent from previous five-year estimates.
The percentage is higher among adults, the population center said. Nearly half (49 percent) of all people 18 and older were born somewhere else and this group has grown faster than the population overall.
"This growth reflects how attractive North Carolina is to migrants of all ages with a range of educational, employment and retirement opportunities," Jessica Stanford, a demographer at the center, wrote. "If these prospects remain abundant, the share of adult North Carolinians born outside of the state may continue to increase."
The share of residents born outside of the state varies dramatically across our 100 counties.
In eighteen counties, more than half of residents are non-native.
Currituck County ranked No. 1 among these counties with three-fourths of its population born outside of the state. Currituck's close proximity and economic ties to the Virginia Beach metro area likely contributes to this large non-native population share, the center said.
Over the past five years, two new counties have seen their non-native population grow to at least half: Union County near Charlotte (51 percent) and Brunswick County (53 percent).
"These additions likely reflect the expansion of the Charlotte metro area into Union and the appeal of Brunswick County for many out-of-state retirees," Stanford wrote.
Wake and Mecklenburg counties are among the top counties with more than half of their populations born outside of North Carolina.
More than 60 percent of Mecklenburg County residents are born outside the state. More than 55 percent of Wake County residents are non-natives.
On the other side of the spectrum, there were 23 North Carolina counties where less than one-fourth of residents were born outside of the state.
Edgecombe County had the highest percentage of North Carolina natives, at about 80 percent.
North Carolina also is home to one of the largest United States military populations in the country — and many of those soldiers and their families were born outside the state.