By David Pendered
Eleven of the nation’s 100 fastest-growing counties are in Georgia, the latest Census estimate shows. Seven of them are in Atlanta’s distant suburbs or the mountains, and two are close to Athens – which the AARP has cited as one of the best retirement cities for three consecutive years.
The population estimates show the pressures that may be mounting in these counties for more government and social services – water and sewer, transportation and transit, health care, schools and libraries, plus any number of services.
Consider the case of Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett was on the list of “fastest growing counties” through much of the 1980s. The growth rate has since declined, now that the population is so comparatively large. But it’s worth noting that Gwinnett’s population rose from 166,903 in 1980 to an estimated 920,260 in 2017.
The latest Census report measured estimated population growth from 2016 to 2017. The figures show these 100 counties had the fastest growth rate when the number of newcomers was compared to existing residents, according to a Census report dated March 22.
Some of the Georgia counties on the latest Census could fit into more than one category for the reasons people move there.
Dawson County, for instance, has long attracted folks who want to reside in the North Georgia mountains and close to outdoor amenities including Amicalola Falls State Park and part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Dawson also is within commuting distance of metro Atlanta and Gainesville and housing prices are attractive – the median sales prices is $209,000, according to a report by real estate tracker trulia.com.
Barrow County could be viewed as another place with houses priced close to those of Dawson County, according to a report trulia.com. They’re within commuting distance of Gainesville and metro Atlanta.
Barrow also is close to Athens and the attractions related to the University of Georgia. The April 21, 2017 report by AARP gushed its approval of the town as a retirement destination:
- “Athens, an artistic jewel of the American South, is known as a breeding ground for famed rock groups such as the B-52s and R.E.M. … At the center of this artistic melee is the University of Georgia (UGA). With more than 30,000 students, UGA is an influential ingredient in the Athens mix … Athens remains a truly fascinating blend of Mayberry R.F.D. and MTV. The effect is as irresistible as it is authentic.”
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at these fastest growing counties, the county seat and their rank on the national scale.
- 14 – Jackson County, Jefferson. The population grew by 3.9 percent, or 2,541, from 64,978 to 67,519.
- 25 – Forsyth County, Cumming. The population grew by 3.6 percent, or 7,900, from 220,067 to 227,967.
- 92 – Paulding County, Dallas. The population grew by 2.6 percent, or 4,071, from 155,374 to 159,445.
North Georgia mountains
- 8 – Lumpkin County, Dahlonega. The population grew by 4.3 percent, or 1,345, from 31,528 to 32,873.
- 28 – Union County, Blairsville. The population grew by 3.5 percent, or 799, from 22,660 to 23,459.
- 38 – Dawson County, Dawsonville. The population grew by 3.2 percent, or 766, from 23,613 to 24,379.
- 65 – Pickens County, Jasper. The population grew by 2.9 percent, or 893, from 30,695 to 31,588.
- 42 – Oconee County, Watkinsville. The population grew by 3.2 percent, or 1,162, from 36,866 to 38,028.
- 98 – Barrow County, Winder. The population grew by 2.6 percent, or 1,970, from 77,091 to 79,061.
- 75 – Columbia County, Appling. The population grew by 2.8 percent, or 4,128, from 147,451 to 151,579.
- 34 – Bryan County, Pembrook. Home to the Fort Stewart Army post, the county’s population grew by 3.4 percent, from 35,842 to 37,060.