Atlanta’s population is skyrocketing: 5 things to know about its growth

Estimates by the Atlanta Regional Commission show the 11-county region continues adding new residents at a fast pace
The Midtown Atlanta skyline at dawn on Monday, September 25, 2023. (John Spink /

Credit: John Spink/AJC

Credit: John Spink/AJC

The Midtown Atlanta skyline at dawn on Monday, September 25, 2023. (John Spink /

Tens of thousands of people continue to move to metro Atlanta and call it their new home every year, and the past year was no exception, according to population data released Wednesday.

The 11-county Atlanta area added 62,700 residents between April 2023 and April 2024, according to estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). It continues several years of similar growth for the region, although the population increase was slightly less than the year prior.

The data revealed several ongoing population trends that accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have maintained momentum, and Gwinnett topped 1 million people, a highly anticipated milestone. Here are five things to know about metro Atlanta’s latest population report:

Steady regionwide growth

The 11-county metro Atlanta area has added more than 250,000 residents from April 2020 to April 2024, marking a steady climb that hasn’t varied much year-to-year. The region set a record last year by adding 66,730 new residents, and while the most recent year’s data was about 6% less, it shows Atlanta’s momentum is hard to shake, according to ARC analysts.

City leaders and ARC credit Atlanta’s strong job market and cost of living compared to other major metros for its steady growth.

Gwinnett joins 1M club

The writing has been on the wall for decades, but Gwinnett broke the 1 million mark this year.

It joins Fulton as the only Georgia counties to breach that mark, and it’ll be decades — or longer — before another county hits seven figures. Cobb and DeKalb are the next closest, but they’re in the high 700,000s, respectively. ARC has population projections for 2050, which has Cobb eclipsing 900,000 and DeKalb at roughly 880,000.

A-town still rises

The city of Atlanta’s growth rate has been unmatched over the past few years.

Georgia’s largest city has added more than 10,000 new residents the past two years, more than a 2% increase each year. The city’s upward trajectory is expected to only increase as it leads the region in approved building permits.

Exurbs remain hot

Outside of the city of Atlanta, the areas experiencing the most growth are along the metro’s outer ring.

The past two years, Cherokee, Henry and Forsyth counties consistently saw the largest percentage increase to their populations. Urban counties with larger existing populations, such as Clayton and DeKalb, saw smaller percentage bumps in comparison.

Some headwinds emerge

Metro Atlanta’s population has steadily increased for years, but that doesn’t mean future growth is inevitable.

The region faces spiking housing costs along with much of the Sunbelt, and job growth has started to moderate after years of explosive post-pandemic economic recovery. ARC analysts said its important for local leaders to lay plans for densification — such as additional housing, traffic mitigation and increased public transport infrastructure — to accommodate new growth on the horizon before issues compound or growing pains arise.