Cobb County’s population has boomed since the last 2010 census, adding nearly 70,000 people since the last official count.
But the boom seems to be waning as Census Bureau estimates last month continue to show a slowdown in Cobb’s growth. Meanwhile, the larger metro Atlanta region continues to outpace Cobb’s increase.
Since 2010, the county’s population has grown by at least 1% year over year until 2017, when Cobb’s population only grew by about 0.56% from 2016. And new data shows the 2018 population of Cobb is estimated at 756,865, an increase of just 0.54% from 2017, according to the Census.
The Census Bureau estimate of the 2018 population put Cobb’s population growth at 1,111 from last year’s estimate, which reported Cobb’s population as 755,754.
But the Census revised Cobb’s population in 2017 down to 752,783 when they released new data, putting Cobb’s year-over-year increase in population at 4,082.
A spokesperson for the Census said that experts reexamine all population estimates since the last Census when they put out new figures. The changes come from improvements to the Census’ methods as well as updated or new data, the spokesperson said.
Paul McDaniel, assistant professor of geography at Kennesaw State University, said while Cobb’s growth has slowed slightly, it is still growing, as is the rest of the metro Atlanta area.
“That’s been due to a number of factors. With Atlanta being in the Sun Belt South, it’s a region that’s growing in general relative to other regions of the county, both with immigrant populations as well as domestic migration from other parts of the country,” McDaniel said.
According to the Census, the Atlanta metro area had the fourth largest population growth from 2017 to 2018 among major metropolitan areas, trailing only the Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix and Houston metros.
The Census Bureau estimates that more than 75,000 people added their numbers to the metro Atlanta population from 2017 to 2018, putting the area’s population at an estimated 5,949,951.
One reason Cobb’s growth may be slowing relative to the rest of the metro area is that counties farther away from the Atlanta city limits and the city of Atlanta itself are both growing faster that Cobb.
Indeed, Cherokee County’s population grew by about 2.5% in both 2017 and 2018, according to the Census Bureau, while Fulton County’s population saw 1.6% growth in 2017 and 1.1% growth in 2018.
Counties further away from the city of Atlanta are growing faster than Cobb thanks in part to lower property costs as well as new developments that bring new jobs to the area.
“In the outer fringes of the metro area, there’s a lot of growth going on there. It’s probably due to the cost of land and land availability and the cost of housing in different parts of the metro area,” McDaniel said.
Mike Carnathan, manager of the research and analytics group at the Atlanta Regional Commission, expressed a similar sentiment to the MDJ earlier this week.
“The fastest growth rates in the region are in counties like Cherokee and Henry, with more developable land, but the character of these areas is changing as well,” Carnathan said.
Meanwhile, new developments, revitalization and gentrification are all leading more people to move into the city of Atlanta, as is the city’s public transit system.
“A lot of new businesses (are) moving into the urban core,” McDaniel said. “There’s a lot of job growth there, and that attracts more people to move there. And then there’s also the general trend in a lot of cities is regrowth and revitalization in the center city areas of metropolitan regions, and Atlanta is no different. That’s part of the broader national trend in a lot of metro areas.”
Still, McDaniel said he thinks Cobb will continue growing and eventually reach a population of more than 1 million.
“Even though the growth has slowed down slightly, I think the trend will be to continue to see it growing, even if it hasn’t been quite as fast as in the past. But I think the overall growth of the metro area will include Cobb County growth as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cobb County at some point hit a million people. … I know the overall estimates in the next couple of decades for the metro area population I think may surpass eight million, and it’s already around six million.”