Metro Atlanta grew at a relatively healthy clip in in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, adding nearly 64,000 people to bring the 10-county region’s total population to 4.7 million. 

That’s according to the latest population estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission. There’s a lot of data to parse, so let’s delve into the numbers. 

How Does This Year’s Growth Stack up to Recent Trends? 

Population growth is down slightly from the year before, reflecting a modest cooling in the local job market. The 1.37% population increase in 2019-20 compares to 1.59% in 2018-19.

Taking a step back, this year’s population growth was a little better than average over the past decade. The 2010s began amid the fallout of the Great Recession, which dampened growth for a number of years in metro Atlanta and across the country. 

Overall, the 10-county region added 585,000 people in the past decade – the equivalent of all of metro Chattanooga. 

How has the ongoing pandemic affected the region’s growth? 

We just don’t know yet. ARC’s estimates are through April 1, 2020 and don’t account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent recession. 

Of course, a slowdown in population growth often accompanies economic crises, something we saw following the Great Recession a decade ago. So planners, and elected officials, and other local leaders will be watching this closely. 

Which parts of metro Atlanta are growing fastest? 

Well, it depends on how you look at it.  

On a percentage basis, the outer suburban counties of Cherokee on the north and Henry on the south led the way, growing by about 2.5% year over year. 

In raw numbers, Gwinnett County added the most people, 15,500, followed by Fulton County with 12,400. Fulton remains the largest county in the region by population, at just over 1 million. 

The City of Atlanta continues to experience steady growth, though it’s slowing. The city added 7,700 new residents between 2019 and 2020, down by almost a third from the record increase of 10,900 between 2018 and 2019 

Atlanta’s total population hit 478,000, compared to 420,000 in 2010, as people flocked to new residential towers in Midtown, Buckhead and other areas.

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.