Population Change from 2000 to 2010
County 2000 2010 Change
Effingham 37,535 52,250 39.2%
Bryan 23,417 30,233 29.1%
Bulloch 55,983 70,217 25.4%
Candler 9,577 10,998 14.8%
Evans 10,495 11,000 4.8%
Emanuel 21,837 22,598 3.4%
Liberty 61,610 63,453 3%
Jenkins 8,575 8,340 -2.7%
Screven 15,374 14,593 -5.1%
U.S. Census: http://2010.census.gov
ATLANTA - While nearly 2 million people have flocked to Georgia in the past decade, fewer than 4,000 since 2000 have trickled into the state's capital - long regarded as the jewel of the New South.
Local Census data released Thursday shows the city of Atlanta grew by less than 1 percent over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the surrounding counties saw their population growth skyrocket.
Bulloch County's population increased by more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2010, increasing 14,234 residents to 70,217, compared to 55,983 in 2000. Like the rest of Georgia, the largest percentage growth among ethnic populations was Hispanics, which grew 132 percent from 1,052 in 2000 to 2,439 in 2010. The white population grew 22 percent from 37,998 in 2000 to 46,251 in 2010, while the black population increased 20 percent from 16,000 in 2000 to 19,252 in 2010.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the Atlanta numbers concern him.
"We're going to look at the data," Reed said in a telephone interview. "We believe that there are probably some challenges, but this is contrary to all the data they've been releasing for the past nine years. Every statement we've made about the city's population has been informed by the data provided by the U.S. Census Department. We have to figure out whether there is a method for disagreeing with their count."
For years, Atlanta has touted its reputation as a mecca for young professionals, especially educated African-Americans. Harvey Newman, an urban policy expert at Georgia State University who has studied Atlanta demographics for four decades, said he was skeptical of the 2010 count.
The Census' American Community Survey population estimate for the city - reported in the years between the decennial count - was more than 515,000 between 2005 and 2009.
The gains outside of metro Atlanta are significantly lower - what Georgia State University political science professor Steve Anthony called uneven.
"You now almost have three Georgias," he said. "We've still got people in south Georgia, but how do you take care of what's down there if there's no people or tax dollars to take care of it?"
University of Georgia demographer Doug Bachtel called the report "a mixed bag" for the state.
"Georgia's experiencing a tremendous amount of growth," Bachtel said. "But that growth isn't all roses because those people require infrastructure and somebody's got to pay for that."
Georgia's population swelled to nearly 9.7 million, up from nearly 8.2 million in 2000. The Peach State is now the country's ninth most populous, up from 10th a decade ago. It grew at a rate of 18.3 percent - outpacing the national growth of 9.7 percent.
The report released Thursday - which relates to racial data related to redistricting - shows Forsyth, Carroll and Henry counties leading growth in the metro area, adding 78.4 percent, 74 percent and 70.9 percent respectively. Gwinnett County added 36.9 percent and Cobb County grew by 13.2 percent. Metro Atlanta's main counties showed more modest growth, with Fulton County adding 12.8 percent and DeKalb County growing by 3.9 percent.
Of Georgia's five largest cities, only Athens showed considerable growth, adding about 15 percent. Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus and Savannah all added less than 4 percent over the last 10 years. Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, saw enormous growth, adding 65.1 percent.
The state's changing demographics will also factor heavily into the state's politics, particularly with regard to the upcoming redistricting battle. The Census is mandated by the Constitution to determine how to divide the seats in the House among the 50 states, and because of Georgia's growth, the state picked up a seat in the House of Representatives.
The House delegation now numbers 14 members. In 1970, Georgia had 10 congressmen.
Numerically, whites continue to make up the majority of Georgians, at nearly 5.8 million people, or 60 percent of the statewide population - down from 65 percent in 2000 and a change of nearly 9 percent. Because the minority populations are concentrated, districts will be overwhelmingly partisan and racially homogenous - which bodes well for Georgia Republicans, said Anthony.
"There are no swing districts anymore," he said. "Most of the people moving to Georgia are white and they're bringing their voting patterns with them from the North and the Midwest. And those voting patterns are Republican."
More than 600,000 blacks moved to Georgia in the past decade, and African-Americans now total nearly 3 million statewide, or 31 percent of the population.