Archives for September 2011

Why We’re Moving Back South

Thomas Clark was one of those committed New Yorkers. “For me it was the whole urban dynamic of being in a big city, being in the financial center of the world,” said the former New York state banking official and onetime president and CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank. Commuting into Manhattan from his White Plains, N.Y., home, the self-described “little guy from Lackawanna, N.Y.,” took advantage of every social and cultural opportunity and “exposure to so many different people.”

 Now, Clark is content with a few visits back a year. Drawn by the cost of living, quality of life and the weather, the 67-year-old Clark moved to Charlotte, N.C., when he retired in November 2008. He’s not alone. “Most of the people I’m meeting are from somewhere else,” he said.

Clark is part of what is being called the “reverse migration” of African Americans from the North to the South, a trend that was starkly reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census data. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, between 2000 and 2009, most of the big metro areas with the largest growth in the African-American population were in the South. “Economic progress, cultural ties and an emerging black middle class have driven greater numbers of blacks to prosperous Southern metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh,” according to analysis by William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, with losses in states such as Illinois and Michigan.