Metro Atlanta moves up to sixth-largest in US, counties outside city see major increases

Metro Atlanta accounted for more than half of all new HIV diagnoses in Georgia in 2021, according to data released by the Center of Disease Control. (Mike Stewart/AP Photo)

The metropolitan Atlanta area has reached a new milestone this week, with the U.S. Census Bureau naming it the sixth largest — and third fastest growing — region in the country.

The city grew by approximately 68,585 new residents in 2023, roughly 1% of the area’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The fastest growth hasn’t been in counties like Fulton, DeKalb or Cobb, but in exurban communities farther from the city.

Two Georgia counties landed in the Census Bureau’s list of top 10 fastest-growing counties with over 20,000 residents.

Dawson County, in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, was fifth in the nation with a population growth of 5.1%.

Jackson County, located near Athens, was fourth at 5.5%. A primary factor was the growth of its city Jefferson, the second fastest-growing micro area — one with 10,000-50,000 residents — in the U.S. Jefferson added 4,606 residents in 2023, according to the Census Bureau. That made the city the fastest-growing micro area by percentage in the U.S. at 5.5%

The new data follows a report released in December that listed Georgia as being one of eight states nationwide with a population of over 11 million.

Both Georgia and Atlanta have caught the eye of potential residents in recent years, due in part to the bustling film, technology and real estate industries.

Time will tell how these population trends affect the culture, infrastructure and, of course, the politics of Atlanta.