While Georgia and the rest of the nation wait on 2020 Census data, the Appalachian Regional Commission is looking at what we know now.
Its newly published study examines county-level data for the 13 ARC states through 2018, based on information from the American Community Survey. In Georgia, the ARC covers 37 counties across the northern tier of the state.
The report includes information on population, population density, age, race and ethnicity as well as education.
Among the seven counties in the mid-Coosa Valley — which also includes Cherokee County, Alabama — Bartow County leads in terms of raw population numbers, with 106,408 residents.
Floyd County follows with 97,927. Walker County is third with 69,410, followed by Gordon County at 57,685, Polk County with 42,470, Cherokee County with 26,032 and Chattooga County with 24,790.
Bartow also has the top population density at 231.3 people per square mile. Floyd is second at 192, while Gordon County has a density of 162 residents per square mile. The population is much more spread out over in Cherokee County, where the density is just 47 people per square mile.
Cherokee has the oldest median age at 46.9 years old. “Median age” means half the people are older and half are younger. The median age in Floyd County is reported at 38.2 years. Polk County has the youngest median age at 37 years.
Georgia’s median age is 36.9 years.
Not surprisingly, Cherokee also has the highest percentage of residents over the age of 65, at 23%. Floyd has 16.7% of its population in the 65 and up category. Bartow has the smallest percentage in that age group at 14%.
“We’ve known for some time that we have an aging population and one of the conversations that we’ve been having involves a workforce that is retiring,” said Rome Floyd Chamber President Jeanne Krueger.
Part of that conversation involves how to recruit more young people to Rome and Floyd County. Krueger said that a 93.6% high school graduation rate now is a big benefit to recruiting younger people to the community.
“We’re real proud of that improvement and it’s a big part of attracting a younger, skilled workforce,” Krueger said.
In terms of education, Bartow County has the smallest percentage of residents over the age of 25 who have less than a high school diploma — at 11%. Floyd County is second in that category with 12.4% while Chattooga County has the highest percentage without a high school diploma at 18.5%.
Chamber leaders believe a majority of those without high school diplomas are in the older demographic ranges.
Floyd has the highest minority population in the mid-Coosa Valley region, at 29.1%. Polk County is second at 28.4% while Bartow County is third at 22.7%.
Statewide, that number is 47.6%. Cherokee County, to the west, has just 8.3% minority population.
American Community Survey estimates are based on annual changes observed since the once-a-decade census.
Leaders across Rome and Floyd County have been urging residents to participate in the 2020 Census. Many contend there was a significant undercount in 2010, particularly as it relates to the Latino segment of the minority population.
The number of people within a community governs decisions ranging from business and industry decisions to federal grants and congressional representation.