Thursday, March 19, 2009

We're No. 1!

It's hard to turn on the news or pick up a paper (papers still exist?) this morning without learning that Raleigh-Cary is the nation's fastest-growing metro area, based on population growth.

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, were the nation's fastest-growing metro areas between 2007 and 2008, according to July 1, 2008, population estimates for the nation's metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas and counties released by the U.S. Census Bureau [according to the Star-News].

Raleigh-Cary saw its population climb 4.3 percent between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, to 1.1 million. Similarly, Austin-Round Rock experienced a 3.8 percent increase, to 1.7 million. These two large metro areas were among 47 of the 50 fastest-growing areas located entirely in the South or West.

It should be cautioned, however, that the population estimates "cover July 1, 2007, to July 1, 2008 – a period before unemployment had struck hard in the state. Since then construction jobs have dried up and the bottom dropped out of the banking industry. ...

"A number of factors make North Carolina attractive to new residents, said James H. Johnson of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, who is director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

"North Carolina metro areas are a lot better off than other communities in the country. In Raleigh and Wake County, Johnson cited an attraction for families with children because of good schools, quality of life and a cost of living that is relatively low compared to similar cities across the country.

“ 'We as a state are a major destination for retirees, including the half backs,' Johnson said, referring to people who moved first from the Northeast to Florida, and now are going halfway back, to North Carolina.

" 'Particularly with seniors who had a nice retirement package and homes and the retirement packages now don’t look as good, North Carolina compared to Florida and California – we were a much better deal,' he said. ..."

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