Atlanta’s Growing and Diverse Population

How Many People Live in Atlanta?

Buckhead Skyline

In the midst of another reconstructive era, Atlanta is revitalizing. Currently ranked the ninth largest metro area in the United States, Metro Atlanta, which spans 29 counties, is home to over 5.7 million people, with a sustained 2 percent annual growth rate since 2000. And that number is expected to break 6 million by the year 2020, moving the city into eighth place within the next four years.

But Atlanta’s population is more than just a head count. Understanding our vibrant population here explains why so many people are moving to Atlanta today. Take a look:

The Demographics of Atlanta’s Population

While Atlanta’s population remains on a steady rise, the populations themselves are on the move. Studies show that African American populations have been trending outwards, moving towards the suburbs, while the White population of Atlanta has increased from 31 percent to 38 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Atlanta’s Thriving Business Community


The capital of the New South is catching everyone’s attention. In fact, 16 different Fortune 500 companies set up their headquarters in Atlanta, drawing a workforce of 2.8 billion into the metro area. Coca-Cola, Home Depot, The Southern Company, Delta Airlines, and Chick-Fil-A are just a few household names that have set up shop in the Southern metropolis, providing over 80,000 jobs collectively. Thanks to this conglomeration of the nation’s top companies, Atlanta’s sprouting population maintains a low unemployment rate of 5.6 percent.

Not to mention Atlanta has the lowest cost of doing business of any metro area in the nation. With a median age of 36.1, Atlanta is not just populated, but occupied by the young and upcoming.

As a Right-to-Work state since 1947, Georgia is part of the minority of states that allow workers this protection. Overall private unionization in metro Atlanta stands at 3.1 percent, almost less than half of the percent nationwide.

It’s no surprise Atlanta is reinventing itself as the perfect place for entrepreneurship and opportunity. Not only was city was named “The Best Place in America to Start a Business” in 2014 by Nerd Wallet and the “Top Medium-Sized City for Young Entrepreneurs" in 2013 by Under30CEO, but it was also listed as the "Best Reemerging Business Destination” by Entreprenuer Magazine, one of the "Best Cities for Millennials" by Forbes and one of "Buzzfeed's top cities 20 somethings must pick up and move to."

Atlanta’s Education System

Opportunities in Atlanta start before residents enter the work force. The portion of the population that holds a bachelor’s degree or higher grew by 43.8 percent between 1990 and 2013, with more than a third of Atlanta’s twenty-fiver years or older population holding bachelor’s degrees . With schools like the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and Georgia State University all within city limits, metro Atlanta is a community populated by budding entrepreneurship and original scholarship.

And as more residents are choosing to stay inside the Perimeter, rather than moving to the suburbs after they have kids, the public school system in Atlanta continues to thrive. In fact, the city of Atlanta is home to 103 public schools, including 50 elementary schools (three of which operate on a year-round calendar), 15 middle schools and 21 high schools. New charter schools are also popping up every year—currently, Atlanta is home to 13 charter schools, including four single gender academies.

Traveling To and From Atlanta

Chances are that even if you haven’t seen Atlanta, you’ve seen inside its airport. Thanks to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s convenient location just 10 miles south of Atlanta proper, the city has become a hub for travelers both continental and abroad. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s top airport in passenger traffic, a position it has held for the last decade—it averages more than 250,000 passengers a day, not to mention nearly 2,500 arrivals and departures daily. In 2014, Hartsfield- Jackson moved nearly 96.1 million air travelers – almost 16 times metro Atlanta’s population.

For a complete guide to the airport, visit this page where you’ll find information about terminals, dining, shopping, transportation and parking at the airport.

Unfortunately, traveling within Atlanta (i.e. commuting) isn’t so easy. It’s no secret Atlanta traffic is pretty horrific. So residents couldn’t be more excited for the Atlanta Regional Commission’s “PLAN 2040,” which will spend $61 billion in transportation improvements over the course of the next twenty years. With such a fast growing population, this kind of renovation is exactly what Atlanta residents need.

What Atlantans Can Expect Moving Forward

The past five years have seen big changes in Atlanta. In 2013, Atlanta implemented the BeltLine, a path that follows the tracks of a historic rail corridor for 22 miles around the city. Part of Atlanta’s renaissance, the Beltline provides the perfect inner city trail, and thanks to its many entrances is accessible to a large part of Atlanta residents.

The city welcomed $1.5 billion in new attractions, restaurants, transportation options and retail offerings in 2014, including Ponce City Market, the largest adaptive reuse project in the city’s history, and the College Football Hall of Fame.

And Atlanta isn’t stopping—the city plans to spend another $2.5 billion over the next four years in new hospitality development, including several hotels (namely a potential development within Hartsfield-Jackson), attraction expansions and two new stadiums: the forthcoming future home of the Atlanta Falcons, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the future home of the Atlanta Braves, SunTrust Park.

On the Westside, a massive reservoir park is in the works. A Quarry – which was featured as the setting in The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games – is in the process of being filled, and will become a lasting water source, as well as a beautiful daytime marine get-a-way for the people of Atlanta.  

And a recent makeover in Midtown has inspired an influx of new builders and newcomers. The same visionaries that constructed Atlantic Station and The Avalon mixed-use developments have set their sights on Colony Square. New shops, condos, and restaurants have already started cropping up, and show no signs of slowing down.