Latest U.S. Census Data Reveals Two Key Components Of Recent Population Growth In Atlanta

April 17, 2018

By the Metro Atlanta Chamber Research Team

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By the Metro Atlanta Chamber Research Team

Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released 2017 population estimates for the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The population of the Atlanta MSA (29 counties) is now an estimated 5.9 million – retaining Atlanta’s status as the ninth largest metro area in the nation. Two components of the 2016-2017 population change, specifically net migration and natural change, reveal details about Atlanta’s growth compared to other major metro areas in the nation.

From 2016 to 2017, metro Atlanta’s population increased 1.5 percent – an estimated 89,013 people, ranking the metro area third in the nation for numeric increase in population behind Dallas and Houston.

Net migration is a population metric that reveals the difference between people moving to a location (in-migration) and people leaving a location (out-migration). This figure can be net positive or negative. From 2016 to 2017, metro Atlanta’s net migration was a positive 53,739, meaning that many more people moved to metro Atlanta from within the U.S. and abroad than moved from Atlanta to somewhere else. Metro Atlanta came in at fourth for the most net migration of all metro areas in the nation.

Top 10 Metro Areas by Net Migration (2016-2017)


MSA July 1, 2016-July 1, 2017 
Population Net Migration
1 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 89,627
2 Phoenix, AZ 63,359
3 Tampa, FL 54,321
4 ATLANTA, GA 53,739
5 Orlando, FL 45,528
6 Seattle, WA 42,466
7 Austin, TX 38,305
8 Charlotte, NC 37,381
9 Las Vegas, NV 36,635
10 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 34,647

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, March 2018

Some of this positive net migration can be attributed to initiatives such as ChooseATL, dedicated to attracting and retaining next-generation talent to the region. Through activations that have reached millennials all over the country, such as the recent 2018 SXSW festival, ChooseATL is creating an excitement around Atlanta. The initiative’s upcoming Block Parties and After 5 programs will reach hundreds of millennials and interns here in Atlanta, further connecting this generation to their city and leading them to set up roots in the community. The initiative also recently launched THEA, a first-of-its-kind OTT video streaming platform for Atlanta talent – again, seeking out and promoting the next-generation.  

Another population metric that is a component of overall population change is natural change – the difference in births and deaths. From 2016 to 2017, there were an estimated 73,810 births and 38,540 deaths in metro Atlanta – or roughly two births for every death – resulting in natural population change of 35,270.

One must consider net migration and natural change as parts of the story of metro Atlanta’s population growth. That growth is expected to continue in the years to come, as more people continue to move to the region for opportunities. Along with this growth, the region continues to produce and retain the creative, tech and executive talent that the metro has become known for, in partnership with leading local universities, incubators and worldwide brands. Atlanta is inventing, connecting, inspiring and thriving – Atlanta is now.

For more information on the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent population estimates for metro areas, click here


For more information from the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Research Team, click here.