ORLANDO - Orlando is the country's fourth-most popular destination for college-educated blacks, who are increasingly leaving the North and Midwest, according to a demographer's study.
Between 1995 and 2000, only Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., gained more transplanted blacks, said William Frey, who conducted the study. In those years, 51,000 more blacks moved to Florida than moved out of the state, and 40 percent of them came to Orlando.
"Orlando continues to sort of explode in black growth," said Frey, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Orlando is catching this wave better than older metro parts of Florida."
The city had a net gain of 13,000 black residents in the late 1980s, and the gain hit 20,000 a decade later, the study showed.
Ray Gilley, president of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, credited the city's growing black middle class and diverse population for attracting new residents and retaining old ones.
"The key point is we are a growing community where people want to live and that embraces diversity," he said.
U.S. census data released last fall showed the South was the only region of the country where black migration was increasing. This reverses a trend from the first half of the 20th century, when many blacks left farms and towns in the South for the industrial Northeast and Midwest.