Nearly half of all adults in North Carolina were born outside the state, according to an analysis by the Carolina Population Center.
Work, education and retirement opportunities are drawing people from many other states and countries, and they're relocating primarily to large urban centers and military bases, according to Demographer Rebecca Tippett.
"Many individuals who are coming here may have very different expectations for how local governments work, for how state policies should be run, that are going to reflect kind of where they're coming from and what they grew up with,” Tippett said.
Many of these people are young adults who settle down and have kids here, and those kids are considered North Carolina natives, Tippett added.
In all, the report found that 49 percent of adults were born in a different state or country. Tippett said the influx of transplants has skyrocketed since the 1950s, when only 10 percent of North Carolinians were born elsewhere.
"There is kind of the joke, 'does Cary really stand for Containment Area for Relocated Yankees?' And there's definitely some truth to that,” she said.
Tippett said a city like Cary has increasingly also relocated Asian – Indian and Chinese – immigrants. In retiree communities in Moore and Brunswick Counties, and portions of the Western mountains, there have also been very high proportions of individuals moving from out of state. And in the state's military bases in Cumberland and Onslow Counties, there has been a large flow of people moving in and out, as they kind of do their duty to the country.
Overall, Tippett said the largest share of people moving in come from Florida, New York and Mexico.
"That proportion of non-native varies widely across the state," she said. "The more you try to get into specific implications, the harder it is to say something kind of universal about what this means for North Carolina, other than that it's an indicator that we continue to be an attractive place for people to move here from other states and countries."