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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

More people leaving Mecklenburg than moving in, data show

New data shows that more people are actually leaving Mecklenburg County than moving in.
Carissa Rogers
New data show that more people are actually leaving Mecklenburg County than moving in.

We often hear that Mecklenburg County is rapidly growing, which is one reason for the explosion of new apartment complexes. But here’s something surprising. New data show more people are actually leaving the county than moving in. That’s according to the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter. For more, WFAE's Marshall Terry talks to the Ledger’s Tony Mecia.

Marshall Terry: Tony, local leaders often tout the number of people moving to Charlotte and surrounding towns. Have they been wrong?

Tony Mecia: Well, no, not exactly. But, you know, sometimes I think there is a tendency to conflate the growth that we're seeing in Mecklenburg County with the growth that we're seeing in some of the surrounding counties. For the last few years, a lot of that growth, most of that growth, really, is taking place in the surrounding counties around Mecklenburg, while Mecklenburg growth has been slowing. And, the surprising part here is that new census data are showing that between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, Mecklenburg County had a net exodus of people. That is, more people were leaving Mecklenburg than were coming here by about 2,000 or so.

Now, Mecklenburg County is still growing, but that's largely, the Census Bureau says, because there are more births than deaths. And, so it's a little bit surprising, I think, as you point out, because we like to think of Mecklenburg County and Charlotte as it's growing like gangbusters. And we see all these apartments everywhere, cranes and all that. But really, most of the growth in our region is taking place in those surrounding counties and not as much in Mecklenburg.

Terry: Why are people leaving?

Mecia: Well, it's I think, a combination of different things. Some people, you know, just the cycle of life, maybe they move somewhere for another job. We talked to a couple of people who during COVID, they said, well, they realized they could work from anywhere and said, why not work in the mountains or why not work somewhere else and not have to deal with city headaches like traffic and what they perceive to be schools that didn't meet their needs.

So, it's a variety of reasons.

Terry: If more people are leaving than moving to Mecklenburg County, who is going to live in all of those new apartments going up everywhere?

Mecia: Yeah, it does seem on its face to be a little bit confounding because we are building a lot of apartments, I think as everybody knows. When I talk to developers, they say that demand is still strong for those apartments and the vacancy rates are low. We're talking about a lot of the newer apartments.

Another factor here, I think, Marshall, in talking to demographers is that they say household sizes are actually decreasing a little bit. So, for example, if you have Millennials or Gen Z and they get an apartment in South End, maybe in the past where they would have had a roommate or a couple of roommates, maybe now they're there living by themselves. So, the number of housing units is different than the population. So, to the long way of answering your question to say, I think we will still be building apartments and know they're not going to be empty.

Terry: Switching over to banks now. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Truist all released quarterly earnings in the past week or so. And during earnings calls, the CEOs of those banks all offered their insights into the possibility of a recession happening. What did they say?

Mecia: This was sort of interesting because they said while they're not seeing any real signs of stress at the moment, they're not seeing people unable to pay their bills. They say people are still spending at a pretty good clip. The banks are preparing for the possibility of a slowdown. They do expect to see some of those things rise.

You know, Brian Moynihan, of Bank of America (CEO), said that despite the worries of a slower economy and other global issues, our customers' resilience and health remain strong. Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said that leading indicators such as payment rates, deposit levels, utilization and revolving debt trends do not indicate signs of stress. So they're not seeing it right now, but they're getting ready for that possibility down the road.

Support for BizWorthy comes from Sharonview Federal Credit Union, UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business and our members.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.