ARC reports third year of stagnating growth in Atlanta

The Atlanta Regional Commission reported Thursday that the Atlanta area is experiencing its third consecutive year of slower-than-normal population growth, citing a lack of job opportunities and an "anemic national economy."

In its latest regional snapshot, the ARC estimated that metro Atlanta's 10-county region added about 34,550 people between April 1, 2010, and last April 1.That growth, while slower than recent years, is still impressive given the country's economic climate, the ARC said.

"Overall, the 2000 decade will be remembered for fast growth, but the recession of 2007 largely stopped that growth in its tracks and the region is still trying to recover," the report reads.

Gwinnett County saw the largest population increase, adding about 8,800 new residents in the past year. Fulton County added 7,619. Cobb added 5,522 and Cherokee grew by 4,154 people. U.S. Census data shows that metro Atlanta ranked third nationally in overall growth in the nation between 2000 and 2010.

Between 1990 and 2010, the 10-county region added 77,500 new residents each year.

Mike Alexander, chief of the ARC's research division, said the estimate was made from a combination of data sets -- birth and death rates, building permits and number of vacant housing units in the area.

"One of the things we did is we went and reviewed the most current unemployment data for the 10-county area and we actually saw a net increase in private sector employment," he said. "The last three years have been really tough. But it's good to see that some employment numbers are heading up."

This new ARC data falls in tow with previous reports. And with no specific indication as to when it might change, Alexander expects the trend to continue even with the slight employment boost.

"The reality is that it's still a relatively small increase in employment so it's not going to drive migration," he said.