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As more blacks move South, Georgia becomes the fav

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As more blacks move South, Georgia becomes the favorite state


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON -- Georgia has become by far the most popular choice for blacks as they increasingly leave other regions of the country to move south, a census report showed Thursday.

From 1995 to 2000, Georgia gained nearly 130,000 black residents from other states, more than a third of the 347,000 gain for the entire South and the most of any state in the nation.

Every other region of the country -- the Northeast, the West and the Midwest -- had a net loss of black residents. The biggest flight was from New York, which lost 165,366.

"There seems to be a greater opportunity for minorities here," said Tarji Carter, a 30-year-old Boston native who moved to Atlanta three weeks ago.

Carter, lured south by a job in business travel sales at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, said she had no worries about how she would be treated in Georgia.

"A girlfriend moved here 11 years ago and hasn't looked back since," she said. "I just see how well she's done since she's been here."

Positive testimonials such as hers are key in making Georgia a magnet for blacks around the country, said Doug Bachtel, a professor of housing and consumer economics at the University of Georgia.

"For quite a while, Georgia, and the South, has been a net gainer for new people moving in," Bachtel said. The growth has been driven by jobs, improved quality of life, better transportation and something less tangible.

"A change of attitude has been real important," Bachtel said of the dramatic reversal from decades ago, when both blacks and whites fled the segregationist South.

The state now offers "tremendous opportunities," chiefly because Atlanta is "a huge nucleus of activity," said Vincent McCant, a native of the city and publisher of, an online magazine that caters to an upscale African-American clientele by offering tips on networking, dating, musical events, finances and even parenting.

Georgia's appeal is not limited to blacks. The latest census report shows that Georgia ranked near the top for all groups when it came to moving to a new state.

Among whites, the state ranked fourth, with a net increase of 143,000. Georgia was also fourth in attracting Hispanics, with a gain of 48,000. And Georgia ranked third in attracting new Asian residents, with 14,000 arriving over the five-year period. The survey did not calculate overseas immigrants in calculating the net gain of various population groups.

Despite Georgia's other gains, the black migration was the most dramatic. One metro Atlanta county, Clayton, gained about 31,000 black residents. That tied for tops in the country with Baltimore County, Md., and St. Louis County, Mo. -- both urban centers many times more populous than Clayton County.

Among those attracted to Clayton County was Michelle Outlaw, who moved there from Jacksonville in 1996.

She was following in the footsteps of a sister who worked for Delta Air Lines in the county, which is the home of Hartsfield International Airport.

"We knew that we were going to be traveling back and forth to Florida a lot, so we wanted to be close to the airport and freeways," Outlaw said.

Outlaw, 42, has since become a planning and zoning specialist for the county and was not surprised to learn that Clayton had one of the largest black population gains in the nation. "I've been seeing it ever since I located here," she said.

Jason Schachter, the Census Bureau official who wrote the study, said the bureau had tracked a growing stream of African-Americans into the South since the mid-1970s.

"It's a higher magnitude" in the most recent study, he said, comparing the 347,000 gain of the late 1990s to a similar study that found a gain of 200,000 black residents in the region.

In the latest count, he said, blacks who moved south tended to be a mixture of those with a college education and those without a high school diploma.

Schachter said arriving blacks tended to be older than the existing Southern population, leading him to conclude that many left the South years ago and were now returning for their retirement years.

Staff writer Mae Gentry contributed to this article.

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Good article!

Atlanta, in particular, is very popular right now with black people all over, much like Chicago was the place to move for blacks at one point.

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