BY DON FENLEY
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – About 1,800 new residents set up housekeeping in the Johnson City area during the first eight months of this year. And almost half are among younger generations. That’s based on new electricity connections compliments of BridgeRidge. There were more, but those who relocated from within Tennessee are not part of the study. Historically in-state moves – especially from neighbors like Kingsport/Sullivan Co. – account for the largest population churn.
Top donor states were North Carolina, Florida, California, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Illinois, and Colorado. Former North Carolina were at the top of the list, followed by Florida, then California. Those are just the top donors. Others came from Hawaii, Wisconsin, Arizona, Connecticut, South Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
Most out-of-state newcomers are what you would expect. Baby Boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964 still dominate generational listings. They accounted for 28 percent of the new residents from other states. But Millennials and GenZ accounted for almost half of migration. Here’s how the drill-down by generations and their share looks:
- Baby Boomers – 1946-1964 – 28 percent.
- Millennials – 1980 – 1994 – 24 percent
- GenZ – 1995 – 2012 – 19 percent
- GenX – 1965 – 1979 – 19 percent
- Xennial – 1975 – 1985 – 6 percent
- Silents – 1925 – 1945 – 4 percent
BrightRidge’s data also dampens the oft-heard complaint that most newcomers are retirees. Using 65 plus as a benchmark shows that 19 percent of out-of-state new residents are in that group. It also shows that college-age students don’t dominate the mix. Of course, using age groups for retirees or students is a generalization, so look at them as ballpark estimates. In fact, the population number is an estimate. It’s derived by taking the area’s typical share of owner and renter-occupied households and calculating the population by the average number of residents for the two household types. Another oddity is some of the new residents also live in Kingsport. That’s because BrightRidge services extend into the 37663 zip code.
Predictably, most of the new newcomers congregated in Johnson City, so far this year. They accounted for 54 percent of the newcomers, while Gray and Jonesborough were neck-and-neck in the growth department.
Jonesborough-Johnson City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Cantler said his organization is especially excited about the number of Millennials and GenZ new residents. The share is slightly less than what it was during the pandemic but is still representative of the city’s drawing power for younger relocation residents. “They are bringing a lot to our workforce and adding a good vibe to the community,” he added.
Watch donfenley.com during the coming weeks for drill downs by community with some insights from just-released regional Census data. That release’s data on the region’s population growth aligns with the Census population projections released earlier this year. The region’s population grew by about 0.4 percent if you include Greeneville/Greene Co. Most of that growth came in Washington and Sullivan counties and most of those counties’ growth came in Johnson City and Kingsport. The regional picture is better than the declines and stagnation outlined three years ago at the first regionalism conference. The Tri-Cities sill lags its neighbors, and in some ways, the regionalism effort hasn’t moved much past the talking stages. In fact, some localities have reportedly backed away from the effort.