Arc: Atlanta regional population at 8 million

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Atlanta Business Chronicle - 12:02 PM EDT Thursday

August 11, 2005

ARC: Atlanta regional population at 3.8 million

In 2005, the Atlanta region grew at the fastest rate in five years and Gwinnett County appears poised to overtake DeKalb County as the state's second-most populous county, according to estimates the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) released Thursday afternoon.

ARC's latest population estimates show the 10-county regional population grew to 3,813,700 people as of April 2005, increasing by 97,600 during the past year. Previously, the largest population increase was 101,621 in 2000-2001.

"This is the biggest population growth since 2000, which is somewhat surprising given that job growth remains slow," said Bart Lewis, chief of ARC's Research Division. "But it does imply that people are confident in the underlying strength of the Atlanta regional economy."

The region's population was 1,896,182 in 1980, 2,557,800 in 1990 and 3,429,379 in 2000. Last year's regional population was 3,716,1000.

All 10 Atlanta region counties (Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale) and the city of Atlanta all grew in population last year. The ARC does not include Forsyth County -- one of the fastest growing counties in the United States -- in its regional data.

Population in the Atlanta region has averaged nearly 77,000 new residents each year between 2000 and 2005, Lewis added. But that is still significantly slower than in the 1990s, when the region averaged 87,158 new residents a year.

The city of Atlanta added 7,200 people in 2005, continuing to increase in population over the five-year period and bucking its trend of declining population during the 1980s and 1990s. On average, Atlanta has added 5,125 new residents a year between 2000 and 2005.

Fulton remained the region's largest county with 871,600 residents and it averaged 11,619 new residents per year from 2000-2005. DeKalb ranks second with 700,800 residents, but Gwinnett is closing the gap in third place with 694,700.

Gwinnett, for years one of the fastest growing counties in the United States, once again led the region in population with 693,900. Since 1980, Gwinnett's population has grown faster than any other county in the region. It had an average increase of 21,090 people per year between 2000 and 2005.

Henry, also one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, had the largest rate of growth in the region between 2000 and 2005, increasing by 6.8 percent from 2004, and by 7 percent over the past five years. Henry averaged 9,532 new residents a year.

Cherokee ranked second in rate of growth with an average of 4.8 percent and Douglas was third at 4.1 percent. The average population increase in Cherokee was 7,479 and in Douglas was 4,145.

Four of the 10 Atlanta region counties -- Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb -- are each home to more than a half million residents. Together, these four counties comprise just more than half the land area in the 10-county region, but they account for 77 percent of its 2005 population.

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.



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