Cobb County’s growth rate has slowed to nearly zero with the county adding a mere 1,000 people in the last year, according to new Census Bureau data released Thursday compared with last year's estimate.
The Census Bureau reported Cobb's population as of July 1, 2018, at 756,865. In 2017, the Census Bureau reported Cobb's population as 755,754.
Cobb County ranked third in most populous counties in Georgia in 2018 and added nearly 70,000 people since 2010. But Census data shows its growth has been slowing in recent years and over the last year has nearly come to a halt.
From 2017 to 2018, growth dropped to 0.15%, or just 1,111 people. In comparison, the county added more than 5,000 people from 2016 to 2017 — an increase of 0.7%.
Cobb’s population came in below only Fulton and Gwinnett counties and just ahead of DeKalb in 2018.
Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said the population slowdown in Cobb can be attributed to the county’s lack of available, undeveloped real estate.
“A lot of the area is pretty much built out, as far as homes and residential,” Birrell said. “There’s not a lot of large-acre tracts in northeast Cobb — my district — and in District 2.”
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents District 2, added that in earlier years, far more people would have been coming to Cobb seeking jobs. With such a robust job market currently, Ott said, there are fewer job seekers taking up residence here.
“There was already a trend that was starting to slow down,” he said. “Yes, the other (metro counties) may not have dropped as much, but ... I think the job market is so strong everywhere that people are not necessarily having to move to find a job.”
Mike Carnathan, manager of the research and analytics group at the Atlanta Regional Commission, said while growth in the county has slowed in recent years, its overall growth pattern is typical of older, more established communities.
“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,” he said.
Carnathan added continued growth in metro Atlanta can be attributed to a boom in multi-family housing as people seek greater walkability and shorter commutes. But, he said, outer suburbs are also growing quickly as people search for other qualities, like housing affordability.
Ott and Birrell agreed that Cobb County’s slowing growth is not necessarily alarming and the overall population growth in the last decade shows residents recognize what it has to offer.
“Our quality of life in Cobb and all of our departments being of the highest caliber (makes it) a great place to live. Our schools are very attractive for people to move here, and of course our tax digest is up,” Birrell said.
She said growth will bring challenges to the county and the metro area, but if handled responsibly, it can be managed. Birrell said it will be especially important for the county to maintain, improve and in some cases build roads and other infrastructure to alleviate traffic congestion and ensure residents of the county can be supported.
“You have to keep up with that growth with the services that you provide and the staff and employees and government, but also in infrastructure—roads and water and everything else that we have to provide,” she said. “With growth comes additional responsibilities.”
Birrell said Cobb is already working on its transportation concerns with its own transit bus service and with a regional approach from House Bill 930, which established the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority in 2018.
Census data also shows Atlanta has made it into the top 10 largest metro areas in the country.
According to the Census, metro Atlanta added 75,702 people from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, placing it ninth in population and fourth in numeric growth in 2018, with a population just shy of 6 million.
Atlanta also placed fourth in numeric growth since 2010, adding 663,201 people from 2010 to 2018 and outpacing growth in the metro Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and Washington areas.