From its humble beginnings as a railroad terminus, metro Atlanta has grown to become one of the nation’s largest, most dynamic regions – and a major player on the global stage. The region is growing fast, with a population that is rapidly diversifying.
This vibrant region is the economic capital of the Southeast and boasts world-class universities, the world’s most-traveled airport and a lively arts and culture scene. Metro Atlanta is also known for its warm hospitality, temperate climate and vast tree canopy – it’s a region in a forest.
Notable landmarks include the Georgia state Capitol, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Stone Mountain Park, and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
A Fast-Growing, and Rapidly Changing, Population
The Atlanta region’s population is growing at the fastest rate since the Great Recession.
Metro Atlanta added 69,200 people, or 1.6 percent, between April 2015 and April 2016, according to Atlanta Regional Commission’s latest population estimates, pushing the total population to 4.4 million. That compares to growth of 1.4 percent (60,300) a year earlier and 1.2 percent (52,700) in 2014.
Metro Atlanta’s growth is occurring both in the suburbs and central core. Gwinnett County added 17,300 residents in 2016, the most in the region. Meanwhile, the City of Atlanta grew by 7,900, fueled by a surge in multi-family housing units.
According to ARC’s population forecasts, the 10-county region will add more than 1.5 million people by 2040, bringing the population to 5.9 million.
The region’s older adult population is growing rapidly as people live longer and the Baby Boom generation ages. By 2040, ARC forecasts the number of residents that are age 65 and over will nearly triple, approaching 1.6 million.
At the same time, the Atlanta region is becoming increasingly diverse. A majority of the population – nearly 60 percent – is now made up of racial and ethnic minority groups, a figure that is expected to increase over time. By 2040, ARC forecasts the region will be about one-third white, one-third African-American and one-third Hispanic and other racial and ethnic groups.
Metro Atlanta’s Economy Showing Strength
The Atlanta region’s economy is highly diverse.
The region is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies and other large employers, such as Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, AT&T, SunTrust Bank and the Centers for Disease Control.
Metro Atlanta is one of the nation’s most important logistics hubs and boasts a growing technology sector. The region has also become one of the nation’s top spots for film and video production.
Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate, which reached 10 percent at the height of the Great Recession, has steadily declined and now stands at around 5 percent. The Atlanta region is expected to add more than 1 million jobs by 2040. The top employment sectors in 2040 will be health care, retail, education and professional and scientific.
Metro Atlanta Speaks
Each year, ARC and its community partners conduct the Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey to take the pulse of metro Atlanta residents and help guide the region’s planning and decision-making.
The survey, which began in 2013, is the largest of its kind the Atlanta region. It offers a snapshot of residents’ views on a range of critical issues, such as transportation, the economy, education, aging and neighborhood quality of life.
Metro Atlanta Speaks covers a 13-county region and is statistically significant to the county level, as well as for the City of Atlanta.