ON THE RECORD

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Atlanta Forward 2015” news stories last week:

Metro Atlanta’s overall economy — its gross domestic product — is down nearly a full percentage point since 2007. Charlotte’s GDP is up 10 percent. Dallas’ has risen 14 percent.

  • Atlanta last year employed 4 percent fewer people than before the recession. Dallas employed 8 percent more, Charlotte 6 percent more.
  • Average weekly earnings in metro Atlanta remain 6 percent below pre-recession levels. In Charlotte and Dallas, they've dropped 3 percent or less.
  • Average metro Atlanta home prices remain 15 percent below the pre-recession peak. In Dallas, they're 13 percent above peak.

Metro Atlanta isn’t the next Detroit. The unemployment rate has dropped, commercial development is rebounding and the region remains appealing enough that Mercedes-Benz chose the area for its U.S. headquarters.

The Mercedes decision is “emblematic, ” said Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. She cited a projection of 78,000 new jobs for metro Atlanta this year.

“I believe that we are on the cusp of getting to a very positive trend.”

Still, key economic markers indicate that Atlanta is struggling to regain its pre-eminent position as a Sunbelt leader.

Fewer people move here than before the recession, proportionately speaking, while more choose Dallas or Charlotte. Millennials —- the young adults considered a region’s creative lifeblood —- have turned their back on metro Atlanta.

Joel Kotkin, an urban expert at Chapman University in California: "Atlanta is one of the big Sunbelt cities of the last 20, 30 years that has really been eclipsed by others."

A.D. Frazier, chief operating officer of the Olympic Games: "I gave a speech to Atlanta Leadership last year and said, 'We were confronted with water, infrastructure and school problems 30 years ago and nothing happened." "When is the last time we built a new road? Or expanded MARTA? We find ourselves in a damn time warp."

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: "Y'all need a therapist if your theory is that between 2012 and today we haven't been making significant progress on our problems." "No metropolitan economy in the Southeast has accomplished what we accomplished, which is why more and more businesses are choosing the metro Atlanta area."