NC in Focus: Examining “halfback” trends

One of my favorite stories of North Carolina’s demographic growth and change is the “halfback.” These are transplanted Northerners, moving out of Florida to mid-south states halfway back to the North — to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. In North Carolina, much of the conversation focuses on the large in-flow of New Yorkers into the state.

There are significant anecdotal reports of the halfback phenomenon, but what do the data say?

NC net in migration of retirees from Florida

In the most recent ten years covered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more individuals 55 and over have moved from Florida to North Carolina than vice versa in all but one, 2013. Migration from Florida to North Carolina spiked near the peak of the housing bubble. During 2006, an estimated 7,410 Floridians age 55+ moved to North Carolina while only 2,335 North Carolinians 55 and older moved to Florida, a net gain to North Carolina of over 5,000 retirees.

A large proportion of retiree migrants from Florida to North Carolina are New York-born. Nationally, just over 7% of all individuals 55 and older were born in New York in 2014. In North Carolina, fewer adults 55 and older were New York-born: 5%. The proportion of New Yorkers among Florida to North Carolina migrants 55+ was 13% in 2014, more than double the state proportion and significantly higher than the national average.

NC halfback retirees

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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