Followup: How Many People Are Moving to Durham Per Day?

Last Fall, I wrote a post about the number of people per day moving to Durham. It turns out that if you look at the MSA or the county, the net migration into Durham (when you leave out births and deaths and account for people coming and leaving) is 11.5 people per day, less than the 20 people per day that I always hear quoted. I took this approach because I wanted to focus solely on the people moving here from other places.

In my post, I just presented the data as I calculated it from the American Community Survey (ACS data). I did not frame it as "look, people aren't moving here as fast as we thought, so the housing crunch must not be as bad as we thought". I fear that some people might have taken it that way, however, so I wanted to first present one other piece of data: housing inventory.

I took a look at the number of housing units as reported by the American Community Survey from 2016 to 2017 (the same years I used for population growth estimates). The ACS breaks down housing units by size (number of people living in the unit), so it's easy to calculate how much more "room" there is for new residents from one year to the next.

One important difference is that we should now include births and deaths. Babies need living space (and they are counted in all of this ACS data, so they should remain in the analysis).

When you take into account births and deaths (in other words, looking solely at population growth from 2016 to 2017):
  • Durham grew by just over 17 people per day
  • Durham housing supply made space for just under 14 people per day
It's difficult for me to fathom what is happening here. Net growth is about 17 people, but where are they going? Are they not being accounted for in the survey?

Regardless, it is clear from housing prices in the area, the number of people moving here (11.5 is not 20, but it is still high) and population increase due to births outweigh deaths that we actually need to build much more housing to accommodate the demand.

Additionally, ACS recently release 2018 data, so I wanted to take a look at the change in net migration over time. I chose to focus on data for Durham County.

First, the last 10 years:

From 2012 to 2013, net migration into Durham County topped 10 per day (and seems to be the peak at 14.68 per day). Also, that year the population change for the county was about 20 people per day, which, I would wager, is where the original 20 people per day figure comes from.

But anecdotally, Durham has only increased in popularity (as a place to live) since 2013, so why have numbers softened a bit? It's important to note that this is speculation, but the popularity, the fact that we aren't building enough housing to accommodate everyone, and the rising price of housing would lead me to believe that fewer people are moving here because there simply isn't room! Sure, we are building more housing every year, but not enough to keep up with demand. That leads to higher prices across the board.

We will see if Expanding Housing Choices (EHC) helps alleviate this pressure at all over the coming years and if Durham takes additional steps to allow for greater density in the urban tier.

Also, I will be very interested in the numbers for 2020 (we will have to wait a long time before we see those). I imagine the pandemic will slow migration across the country, but once we are past all of this, will there be an even bigger spike in people moving here? Time will tell.

Thoughts? The great members who are active in the forums would love to hear what you have to say here!

* Important note - for these calculations, I used the same birth and death rate for all years (CDC's Wonder Data for 2017). While best practice would have been to calculate birth and death rates for each year, they don't change all that much within a 10-year span, so I felt safe using those birth and death rates.

* For methodology, see the original post here.

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