Net commuting flows are equal to the number of individuals commuting into a county to work minus the number of residents leaving the county to work elsewhere. A positive net flow or net in-commuting indicates that there are more jobs in the county than there are resident workers. A negative net flow or net out-commuting indicates that there are more workers living in the county than there are jobs.

Across the state, 30 counties have net in-commuting. Seventy counties have net out-commuting. The table below highlights the five counties with the largest net commuting in-flows and the five counties with the largest net out-flows.

5 Counties with Largest Net In and Out Commuting Flows

Counties with large commuting in-flows are typically core counties of a larger metropolitan area. Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has the largest net in-flow of commuters: nearly 130,000 individuals work in Mecklenburg and live in another county. Similar patterns exist in Durham County (Durham and Research Triangle Park), Guilford (Greensboro), Cumberland (Fayetteville and Fort Bragg), and Forsyth (Winston-Salem).

Although Wake County has the largest number of residents who work (461,100) and the second largest number of workers (482,300), it has the 6th largest net flow (21,200). This is because more than 51,000 Wake County residents work in neighboring Durham County, likely in RTP. This represents about 11% of Wake County resident workers but 27% of all individuals who work in Durham County.

The counties with the largest net out-flows are suburban counties bordering core counties of the state’s larger metropolitan areas. Union County, southeast of Charlotte, has the largest net out-flow of commuters; 43% of Union County residents work in Mecklenburg. Thirty-nine percent of Johnston County residents work in Wake, while Davidson County residents are split nearly evenly between commuting to Forsyth (19%) and Guilford (22%). Harnett commuters head in large numbers to Cumberland (27%) and Wake (18%), while 29% of Gaston’s residents are commuting to Mecklenburg.

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