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Surprise: More people leaving Mecklenburg than moving here
Plus: Mayor donates $2,500 in effort to beat Bokhari; Bank CEOs give economic outlooks; Charity bourbon-making at Opera Carolina; C'sar the oldest African elephant celebrates birthday
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Yes, Charlotte has newcomers, but more residents are moving away, census and USPS data shows; Suburbs surge
Jeremy Martin and his family, seen here at a Fourth of July parade in Blowing Rock, moved to Boone last year after 22 years in Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Martin)
By Tony Mecia and Lindsey Banks
We all see the new apartment complexes, read the news of new jobs and worry about the effects of all these people moving here.
But some startling new statistics show that in fact, the number of people moving out of Mecklenburg County exceeds the number of those moving in. That’s a notion that seems counterintuitive and challenges the story Charlotte likes to tell itself: that we’re a desirable hub of prosperity and an attractive magnet for newcomers.
Mecklenburg, with a population of more than 1.1 million, is still growing, census figures show. But that’s largely because the number of births here is far outpacing the number of deaths. Census estimates released earlier this year show that in the 12 months ending July 1, 2021, the number of people leaving Mecklenburg for other places in the U.S. exceeded those coming here by about 4,300 residents. (Internationally, we gained a net of about 2,200 residents.)
In addition, for the last several years, more people have filled out mail change-of-address cards to leave Charlotte than to come here, according to U.S. Postal Service data. The Charlotte ZIP code with the greatest net exodus was 28212, in east Charlotte, while the one with the greatest gain was 28278, in the Steele Creek area along Lake Wylie, USPS figures show.
One of those who moved away last year was Jeremy Martin, who moved to Boone with his wife and three daughters after 22 years in Charlotte. When his job and his daughters’ school went full-remote during the pandemic, he said his family needed a bigger space to coexist and work.
He and his wife thought, “Why not move to where we want to vacation?” As much as he hated to admit it, the older he got, the more he craved mountain life. Boone operates at a slower pace than Charlotte, Martin said, and he finds the schools to be a better fit for his three daughters.
The thing he misses the most about Charlotte: Target.
Another couple who left: Mike and Dana White, who moved to Massachusetts with their two children after 9 years in the Ballantyne area. They left when Mike accepted a new position with his company. Dana said that when they first moved to Charlotte, they knew it wouldn’t be their forever home.
Dana White said that although they aren’t sad about saying goodbye to Charlotte’s overcrowded schools and traffic, they do miss some of Charlotte’s advantages, including its chain restaurants, temperate winter weather and, of course, their friends here.
Charlotte leaders often like to talk about the number of people moving here on a daily basis to illustrate growth. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, for instance, said on its website in March that the numbers show that the Charlotte region is the 7th-fastest growing metro region in the country, with about 84 people moving here every day, based on the 2021 census estimates. Others sometimes put the number at 120 a day. But all those gains from people moving here are in surrounding counties: If you look only at Mecklenburg, you’d have to say about 6 people move away every day.
Suburban growth: Mecklenburg’s overall population increased by just over 3,900 people from 2020 to 2021 — less than the population gains in far smaller surrounding counties such as York, S.C. (+4,700); Union (+4,400); Iredell (+4,300) and Cabarrus (+4,200).
“Since about 2015, we have seen a shift from most of the growth happening in Mecklenburg County to the bulk of the growth for the region happening in surrounding counties,” says Chuck McShane, director of market analytics with real-estate data company CoStar Group. Suburban counties have been growing, he says, as first-time homebuyers and newcomers look for less expensive alternatives: “There is a lifestyle pull, in family-forming years, to moving to the suburbs. And there is also a cost advantage to living in the suburbs.”
Nationally, the U.S. population grew at its slowest rate ever in 2021, 0.1%.
Rebecca Tippett, the director of Carolina Demography at UNC Chapel Hill, noted Mecklenburg’s “estimated net out-migration” in a blog post in March and wrote that it’s unclear if it is a long-lasting trend or a blip: “Whether this is a single-year aberration due to the pandemic or a multi-year trend is something we won’t know until we get more data.”
By the numbers: Mecklenburg population change, 2020-21
Mecklenburg County’s population grew by 3,936 residents between 2020 and 2021, or 0.4%. That growth, though, came from having more births than deaths, not from people moving here.
1,118,340 — Mecklenburg July 1, 2020, estimated population
+14,170 — births
+2,198 — international migration
+200 — other (residual / not attributable)
-8,339 — deaths
-4,293 — domestic migration
= 1,122,276 — Mecklenburg July 1, 2021, estimated population
➡️ See for yourself: Census file with the numbers
Today’s supporting sponsors are T.R. Lawing Realty…
Mayor Lyles donates $2,500 to unseat Bokhari; Democrats mostly lead in city election fundraising, reports show
One of the most closely watched battles in tomorrow’s city election is in south Charlotte, where Republican district representative Tariq Bokhari is running for a third term against Democratic challenger Stephanie Hand.
And Democratic Mayor Vi Lyles’ campaign committee has chipped in $2,500 to support Hand, according to state campaign finance records. Bokhari and Lyles occasionally tangle at council meetings, and Bokhari is the council’s most outspoken critic of the city’s direction and leadership.
Records show that Bokhari has outraised Hand this election cycle, $65,000 to her $41,000.
Some of Bokhari’s notable big contributors include Coke Consolidated CEO Frank Harrison ($5,000), car dealership owner Felix Sabates ($2,500), FS Food Group CEO Frank Scibelli ($2,500), Northwood Ravin CEO David Ravin ($1,500), furniture CEO James Broyhill ($1,000), developer Roy Goode ($1,000), Synco Properties CEO Tim Hose ($1,000) and Vinay Patel of SREE Hotels ($1,000).
Some of Hand’s notable big contributors include Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County ($3,500); James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church ($1,000); former Springs Industries CEO Crandall Bowles ($1,000); and Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt ($500).
Mayor’s race: The reports show that Lyles has outraised her Republican challenger, Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao, almost 5 to 1 ($48,000 to $10,500). Some of Lyles’ notable donors include five Duke Energy executives (totaling $5,000), Atrium Health ($4,500) and the political action campaign Higher Heights for America ($5,000), which supports “electing more progressive Black women.”
In the at-large race, Democrats have mostly raised more money than their Republican opponents. Republicans have not won a citywide race since 2009. Democrats hold a 9-2 advantage on the City Council.
Voting time: Polls are open tomorrow from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. —TM
➡️ Geek out on campaign finance: You can search campaign finance filings here.
Bank CEOs say economy still looks good, but worries on the horizon
Some of Charlotte’s big banks say that while the economy still appears healthy that they’re preparing for the next few months to be rougher.
Bank earnings calls are usually snoozy affairs — with discussions of earnings per diluted share projections, loan loss provisions, etc. — but they can also provide insights about the economy, because banks often spot early signs of weaknesses such as increased late payments, lower spending and slumping demand for business loans.
A few highlights from remarks of bank CEOs in the last week or so:
Truist: generally positive, delinquencies inching up
CEO Bill Rogers said the bank’s clients are “generally positive on current economic conditions,” though businesses the bank works with have “concerns about labor shortages and margin pressure, given rising rates and higher input costs.” He also said that “while we believe the economy is currently healthy, the effects of ongoing geopolitical uncertainty, coupled with still too high inflation and an aggressive forecast for tightening the monetary policy, have somewhat diminished the economic outlook as we move further into this year and into next.”
He said there’s “increased uncertainty associated with the softening economic environment,” and another Truist executive said that delinquency rates are rising among “low to moderate income consumers” — customers with incomes of $50,000 and below.
Bank of America: consumers are resilient
CEO Brian Moynihan said “U.S. consumers remain quite resilient” and that they “continue to spend at a healthy pace, even as quite some time has passed since the receipt of any stimulus.” He said in the first two weeks of July, bank customers spent 10% more than they did in the same period of 2021 — though some of the spending shifted to travel and fuel and away from retailers.
He added that customers are paying off credit cards “at a good clip.”
He said: “In the end, despite the worries of a slower economy and other global issues … our customers' resilience and health remains strong.”
Wells Fargo: slowing spending, but no signs of consumer stress
CEO Charlie Scharf said customers’ spending “started to slow in May and June” and that consumer credit card usage remained below pre-Covid levels, with low delinquency rates.
He said: “Leading indicators such as payment rates, deposit levels, utilization, and revolving debt trends do not yet indicate signs of stress.” —TM
Opera Carolina rolls out the barrel with bourbon-making fundraiser
Opera Carolina is bringing the bourbon to its upcoming fundraiser on Wednesday. The opera company is partnering with Maker’s Mark, the Mecklenburg County ABC Board and the Charlotte Bourbon Society to blend a special barrel of bourbon it’s calling the “Maestro’s Blend.”
Charlotte-based Opera Carolina will use the proceeds for educational outreach, focusing on its program, Opera Xpress, which supports music programs at Title I elementary schools.
At the event, a group of eight blenders, made up of corporate and individual sponsors, will create a Maker’s Mark Select 46 recipe, choosing the taste, aroma and feel. A representative from Maker’s Mark will walk attendees through the bourbon-making process and guide them through making their own.
The recipe will then be shipped to Loretto, Ky., for 14 weeks, where it will be distilled in a randomly selected barrel that has been aging for four to seven years. Then, in December, about 240 bottles of “Maestro’s Blend” will travel back to Charlotte, where it will be sold in Mecklenburg ABC stores.
“Through Covid, it shows how innovative Opera Carolina has become in its programming, its community outreach, its educational outreach, and its unique ways to raise funds to raise the profile of this 72-year-old organization that has been around and is very unique in its operational style,” said Philip Volponi, a corporate development consultant for Opera Carolina.
Volponi says Opera Carolina hopes to raise $20,000 from the bourbon project. Sponsorships for the event at Cedarwood Country Club are still available, and attending the event as a “blending observer” costs $150. —LB
Uptown funk could be air quality violation: Mecklenburg County air quality officials say this month’s big stink uptown violated air pollution rules. The county is seeking more information “that will help determine next steps.” Legacy Environmental Services blamed a mistake in handling metal tanks that contained mercaptan, a chemical that contains a rotten-egg smell that is added to natural gas to warn of gas leaks. It stunk up the uptown area on July 14. (Observer)
Homeless camp cleared: Police cleared out a homeless encampment at a former Exxon gas station at the intersection of Woodlawn Road and South Boulevard. One of the people living at the site said police showed up Friday and gave everyone 10 minutes to leave. (WSOC)
Bonus for UNC system president: The UNC Board of Governors approved a $451,000 performance bonus for system president Peter Hans. He was hired two years ago with a base salary of $400,000. (N.C. Policy Watch)
2 injured in strip-club shooting: A shooting at a Charlotte strip club sent two people to the hospital with life-threatening injuries on Saturday. Medic said the shooting took place at the Gold Club on Old Pineville Road. There were no further details. (Observer)
Elephant birthday celebration: C’sar, an African elephant at the North Carolina Zoo, turns 48 today and is the oldest male African elephant in North America. The 12,000-pound pachyderm, who has arthritis and can’t fully move his left ear, is celebrating with a huge ice pop cake made of watermelon, carrots and sweet potatoes. (QCity Metro)
Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks dais unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Contributing photographer/videographer: Kevin Young, The 5 and 2 Project