Market in Focus: Georgia Population Growth Bounces Back After Low Growth in 2021

Between 2021 and 2022, the state of Georgia gained 124,827 residents. This was the fourth largest population gain in the U.S. and one of only four states to have a nominal population increase above 100,000. In percentage terms, Georgia’s population grew at 1.2% between this time. This was the state’s highest percentage increase in population since 2016. Georgia’s population has not experienced a decline since 1953.

Georgia has 15 Census designated MSAs, three of which are shared with border states of Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina. The largest Georgia MSA is Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell which had a population just above 6.2 million, the 8th largest MSA in the United States. No other MSA in Georgia tops a population of one million. The smallest MSA in Georgia is Hinesville having a population just over 86,000.

Atlanta-Sandy Spring-Roswell had the most single-family permits in 2022 in Georgia at 26,623, which is expected given how much larger the population is in the Atlanta area compared to other MSAs in the state. All other MSAs in Georgia combined reported a smaller 16,248 single-family permits in 2022. The Atlanta MSA has surpassed all other state permits in recent years, with the only exception following the Great Recession (2009-2011). The MSA with the smallest population in Georgia, Hinesville, permitted the 10th most single-family permits in 2022 for the state.

The ten highest single-family permits per capita per MSA in 2022 are all displayed in the map below along with their 2022 single-family permits and population estimates. Based on the map below, the highest 2022 single-family permits per capita MSAs are located in the southern half of Georgia with the four highest MSAs located south of Macon.

The Hinesville MSA had the highest permits per capita in 2022 at 0.009 while the Athens-Clarke County MSA had the lowest at 0.003. The four highest permits per capita areas: Hinesville, Valdosta, Brunswick, and Warner Robins are the lowest population MSAs of the ten. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, the MSA which had the largest number of single-family permits and largest population in Georgia, was the third lowest permits per capita among the ten at 0.004.

Looking at the population growth of these ten MSAs, Gainesville had the highest median growth rate since 1980 at 2.5%. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell was just behind at 2.3% median growth rate. These were the only two MSAs of the ten with above 2.0% median growth rate. Augusta-Richmond County and Chattanooga both had median population growth rate below 1.0%.

The median permits per capita for these ten Georgia MSAs between 1980-2022 is again topped by Gainesville (0.0077) and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell (0.0076) just as with the median population growth. Along with Gainesville and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Warner Robins MSA was the only other among the ten to have a median permits per capita above 0.006. The Chattanooga MSA, which had the lowest median population growth, had the lowest median permits per capita and was the only one among the ten below 0.004.

Over the past three years, Hinesville has had the highest single-family permits per capita. Prior to the Great Recession, Gainesville and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell were both consistently among the top MSAs when looking at permits per capita. These high pre-Great Recession levels led to them having the highest median permits per capita over the 42-year period. Particularly for Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, the yearly single-family permits per capita level has not returned to even the lowest pre-Great Recession level.

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