Metro Atlanta Population to Reach 7.9 Million by 2050, ARC Forecasts Show

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, February 16th, 2024

The population of the 21-county Atlanta region will reach 7.9 million by 2050, an increase of 1.8 million over the 2020 U.S. Census baseline, according to population and employment forecasts released today by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The growth will be driven by the region’s economy. ARC forecasts metro Atlanta will add 856,000 jobs by 2050, for a total of 4.6 million.

ARC issues long-range population and employment forecasts about every four years to inform major updates to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), the region’s long-range blueprint that shapes transportation investments in metro Atlanta.

The latest MTP, adopted today by the ARC Board, allocates $168 billion through 2050 for transportation projects across the Atlanta region.

Highlights of the latest population and employment forecasts include:

  • Diversity will drive the region’s growth. Virtually all the net growth will come from racial and ethnic minority groups. For example, Hispanic and Latino residents are forecast to account for 21% of the region’s population in 2050, compared to 12% today.

  • The region’s population of older adults will grow at a fast rate: In 2050, nearly 12% of the region’s population, or more than 900,000 people, will be aged 75 or older. That compares to a share of less than 5% today.

  • Growth to remain strong, but slower than previously forecast. The new 2050 population forecast is about 700,000 below what was forecast in the previous series adopted in 2020. Driving the slower growth are declining fertility rates and a drop in “in-migration” – that is, people moving to metro Atlanta from other parts of the country or from abroad. Both of these trends accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Fastest growth to occur in outer counties. The fastest-growing counties in the 21-county region through 2050 are forecast to be Forsyth (79%), Barrow (71%), Paulding (60%), Cherokee (53%), Walton (51%), and Coweta (51%).

  • Strong growth in region’s core, too: The region’s five core counties (Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb, and Clayton, are forecast to add a total of 812,000 people by 2050, representing nearly half of the region’s total growth.

  • Largest employment growth to occur in professional and business services. This category is forecast to add 130,000 jobs by 2050. The fastest-growing sectors by percentage are arts, entertainment, and recreation (68%); professional and business services (38%), accommodation & food service (36%), and manufacturing (35%).

“ARC’s latest population and employment forecasts show that our region’s great quality of life and vibrant economy will drive strong growth in the decades ahead,” said Anna Roach, ARC’s Executive Director & CEO. “But metro Atlanta’s continued prosperity is not a given. We must keep investing in our infrastructure and in our people to build a successful future.”