NC workforce grows—and grows more educated—from migration

Download the one-page research brief: Migration’s Impact on the Educational Attainment of NC’s Workforce

Working-age adults (18-64) make up the majority of migrants into and out of the state. On average, nearly 243,000 working-age adults moved into North Carolina each year between 2010 and 2014 while 175,000 moved away, an annual net gain of  68,000 working-age adults.

Working-age adults who moved into or out of the state had higher educational attainment than non-migrants (individuals who either did not move or made a move within North Carolina boundaries). Sixty-eight percent of migrants had some form of postsecondary education compared to 60% of non-migrants. This difference was primarily driven by high levels of individuals reporting a bachelor’s degree or higher among migrants (34% versus 26% among non-migrants).

Because North Carolina has net gains from migration, the overall impact of migration is to grow the state’s workforce while also increasing its educational attainment. Every year since 2010, North Carolina has gained an average of 68,000 working-age adults. Of these, 24,000 have some college or an associate’s degree while 22,000 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Data presented are tabulations of 2010-2014 American Community Survey five-year data from IPUMS-USA. Because the ACS only surveys individuals currently residing in the United States, it cannot capture individuals who moved from North Carolina to a foreign country or U.S. territory. The absence of information on the size of this outflow causes the ACS data to slightly overestimate the total volume of net migration.

About Rebecca Tippett

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