Metro Atlanta absorbed eight of 10 Georgians who arrived in past seven years, Census reports

By David Pendered

The latest population estimates from the Census show that metro Atlanta absorbed 81 percent of the state’s population growth through the first seven years of the current decade. This means an estimated 598,000 newcomers landed in the region, while the rest of the entire state absorbed just 144,000 new residents.

Traffic, Stone Mountain Freeway

Traffic was moving at a fraction of the posted speed limit along the Stone Mountain Freeway during the Jan. 30 evening drive. Credit: David Pendered

These figures are worth remembering as the region rolls out — or doesn’t — the transit legislation the General Assembly is waiting to the last minute to call for a vote.

As of Monday afternoon, the transit legislation was in the hands of a conference committee comprised of two House members and two senators. Their mission is to hash out a compromise acceptable to both chambers on the House version of the transit proposal — House Bill 930. The session is slated to conclude Thursday.

The Census on March 22 released its latest estimates of the nation’s population. The estimates cover the period from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017.

The nation’s population has reached an estimated 325.7 million residents. That’s a growth rate of about 5.5 percent during the seven-year period, up from 308.7 million residents recorded in the 2010 Census.

Metro Atlanta’s growth rate was 11.3 percent over the past seven years.

Charlotte gets a mention partly because of Atlanta’s obsession with comparing itself to the Queen City, and partly because Brian Leary — whose Georgia Tech master’s thesis contributed to the development of Atlantic Station — is working with Charlotte-based Crescent Communities, which is developing one of its signature Novel multifamily structures on Lenox Road in Buckhead.

Metro Charlotte’s growth rate was 13.9 percent over those seven years.

The number of new arrivals who selected the City of Atlanta isn’t covered in the latest Census estimate.

Midtown, condo, one museum place

New homes in Midtown are serving the growing population in the City of Atlanta, the heart of a region that attracted eight of every 10 residents who arrived in Georgia since 2010, according to a new Census report. Two units in One Museum Place sold for $1.9 million and $2.3 million, according to Fulton County tax records. Credit: David Pendered

However, an estimate from July 2016 put the city’s population at an estimated 472,522 residents. This represents a growth rate of 12.4 percent during the decade, rising from the actual population of 420,003 recorded in the Census of April 1, 2000.

Atlanta’s population growth fueled that of Fulton County, and it represents nearly half the newcomers who moved anywhere into Fulton during the past seven years.

Fulton remains the region’s most-populated county, at an estimated 1,041,423 residents. It added an estimated 120,842 residents, the greatest population gain recorded among the region’s five core counties — Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett.

But as it has in the past, Fulton was outpaced by Gwinnett County in terms of the rate of growth. Fulton ranked second among the five counties for rate of growth, at 13.1 percent compared to Gwinnett’s 14.3 percent.

Gwinnett also is closing in on Fulton in terms of having the region’s largest population.

Gwinnett now has an estimated 920,260 residents. That is just about the actual number of Fulton residents counted in the 2010 Census.

Clayton County, where civic leaders won a campaign to bring MARTA to the county, posted a 9.9 percent population gain. The county’s population stands at an estimated 285,153 residents, up by an estimated 25,719 residents from 259,434 residents counted in the 2010 Census.

Cobb County’s growth rate stood at 9.8 percent. The county added an estimated 67,676 residents, raising the population from 688,078 in 2010 to an estimated 755,754 in the latest count.

DeKalb County’s population grew by an estimated 8.8 percent. DeKalb added an estimated 61,360 residents in the past seven years. The population rose to an estimated 753,253 from 691,893 residents.


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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