DeKalb’s Population Growth Continues Along With Other Metropolitan Counties –

As DeKalb County—founded in December 1822—approaches its 200th anniversary, it marks a jump in population that brings it to a total estimate of 775,022. DeKalb added 5,430 new residents over the past year, according to population estimates released earlier in the month by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). This growth represents a 0.7% increase over the 2021 estimate.

ARC is the official planning agency for the 11-county Atlanta area, consisting of Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties, as well as the city of Atlanta and 74 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission, according to its website, serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention, and resource planning on key regional issues.

With a population of just over 10,000 when the county was carved into parts of Henry, Gwinnett, and Fayette counties in 1822, DeKalb now has an estimated total population that exceeds that of the entire state of Alaska.

Until the 1950s, DeKalb remained a largely agricultural county. With its conversion to an urban area, the county experienced the greatest population jump in its history. The county grew from 136,395 in 1950 to 256,782 just a decade later, an increase of 88.3%, according to the US Census Ten Year Report. A smaller, but still significant leap took place over the next decade. The 1970 census placed DeKalb County’s population at 415,387, an increase of 61.8% from the previous decennial census.

The county’s population continued to grow at a steady rate of over 15% per year until the first decade of the 21st century, when growth slowed to 3.9%. Between 2010 and 2020, however, the county again grew at a steady rate, showing a 10.5% increase between 2010 and 2020. During the same period, the Georgian population increased by 10.3% and the US population of 6.5%.

DeKalb at the end of the 20th century was the second largest county in the state. Although it is again experiencing rapid growth, so are other counties in the Atlanta metro area. DeKalb is now the fourth largest county, behind Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb.

Although not the largest county by population, DeKalb has the highest density rate of any county in Georgia at 2,854.9 people per square mile. By comparison, Fulton County, which has the largest population, has a density rate of 2,025.3 people per square mile, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Each of Metro Atlanta’s 11 counties and the City of Atlanta have seen population gains over the past year, pushing the region’s total by 64,940 new residents to 5.1 million. Gwinnett and Fulton counties added the most residents. The metropolitan area alone now exceeds what had been the population of the entire state 50 years ago – 4.8 million.

Calling the recent population gains “a testament to the quality of life Metro Atlanta offers,” commented ARC Executive Director Anna Roach, “We are clearly recovering from the initial shock of the pandemic in 2020. These population gains are encouraging.As we look to the future, we must continue to work on housing affordability, transit access, transportation infrastructure, and other critical issues in order to foster a region where everyone prospers.

However, the annual regional population growth is still lower than the average annual increase for Metro Atlanta in the 2010s.

Greater population gains this year in Metro Atlanta are relatively strong increases in building permits and a fuller recovery from job losses due to the pandemic, according to the ARC. Metro Atlanta had the nation’s second-highest job growth rate among major metropolitan areas, at 6.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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