Atlanta to surge in population, jobs and traffic, Mayors’ report says

Traffic builds on the first Monday morning commute since the I-85 reopening. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Traffic builds on the first Monday morning commute since the I-85 reopening. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Metro Atlanta will keep growing, rising in the next three decades to become the sixth-largest metro area in the country, according to projections in a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Despite losing more than 200,000 jobs during the recession, the region has turned it around and will keep expanding into the future, with a population projected at more than 8.6 million by 2046, the report concludes.

MARTA is hoping new customers don't go back to their old ways.

Atlanta is now the eighth-largest metro with about 5.8 million people.

But in general, when it comes to job growth, income and the future of the American economy, it's all about the cities – just ask the mayors.

Their report projects the U.S. metro population growing by 66.7 million people in the next three decades – almost all the nation’s growth. By 2047, 72 metros will have population of more than 1 million, compared to 53 now.

Five metros will have more than 10 million people by 2047, the report said.

Of course, that implies congestion. That is, more congestion. It’s already costly and it’s going to get a lot more expensive, the mayors’ report predicts.

The value of wasted time and fuel is now estimated at more than $160 billion a year in urban areas. That comes out to $960 per commuter.

Ranking? It may surprise you to learn that Atlanta is not even in the top five – not that the numbers look particularly good here. And not when you consider that several hundred metros are cheaper-per-commuter.

But the region’s average congestion costs rank 22nd nationally at about $1,130 per commuter.

Coming in at the top is our nation’s capital, where congestion costs average $1,886 per commuter.

The report was issued to mark Infrastructure Week, with the mayors arguing that spending on transit and other infrastructure would boost growth and efficiency, adding jobs and increasing business profits where most Americans live and work.


AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on, including these stories:

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