It’s probably not shocking to hear that metro Atlanta is adding more people. Just take a look at all the construction cranes dotting the skyline, or the skyrocketing rents, for that matter.

What might come as a surprise is how the metro is growing, and where.

The 10-county metro area added another 72,500 residents in the past year, for a new total of 4.6 million people, according to a report from the Atlanta Regional Commission. For perspective, that population number is larger than that of 24 states.

The past three years have been the strongest population increases in the past decade for the region.

But the makeup of that growth is where the data gets interesting.

Where is the growth happening?

In raw numbers, Fulton County added the most people in the past year, at 16,700 – 10,160 of those in the City of Atlanta. Gwinnett County came in a close second, adding 15,100.

The fastest growth rates once again belonged to the region’s outer counties. Cherokee grew by 3.2% (8,200) and Henry County by 2.6% (6,100). In the chart below, you can see county-by-county growth over the past ten years.

What’s driving the growth?

Growth in jobs continues to drive the growth in population, although the slight slowing of the former has contributed to the slowing of the latter.

In the city of Atlanta, high levels of multi-family development are indicative of the demand for housing in the urban core, although regionwide, building permit activity is still below pre-recession levels.

I’ve heard we’re full. Are we?

No, but we get that it feels like it when you’re on I-285 at rush hour.

The truth is, metro Atlanta has plenty of room to grow, as long as the region keeps investing smartly in our infrastructure and addressing key regional issues like housing affordability, workforce development, and the needs of our fast-growing population of older adults.

The good news: The region is now updating its long-range plan, the Atlanta Region’s Plan, which looks all the way out to 2050.

You can learn more at and even play a game to explore how you think the region will change over the next 30 years.

And check out ARC’s Regional Snapshot for a more detailed look at the 2019 population estimates.

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.