Race has always been the throughline in every significant discussion about Atlanta, but as the metro area grows ever more diverse, the story is much more than black and white. In the next 30 years, as we add a projected 2.9 million more people to a metro population that’s already approaching 6 million, we truly will see the world represented in the faces of our neighbors near and far. Today, whites make up almost half of the population; by 2050, they likely won’t consist of even a third. Another third will be black Atlantans. Hispanics and Asians together will comprise the bulk of the rest.
Of the 10 counties closest to the city of Atlanta, only two—Forsyth and Cherokee—are expected to remain majority white 20 years from now. Indeed, the only other county of those 10 where one race will have a plurality is Clayton, which will remain majority black (barely). But everywhere else? We’ll be a gumbo of cultures and languages. The story of Atlanta will grow infinitely more complex.
In the past 10 years
Between 2010 and 2019, metro Atlanta’s population grew by some 700,000. The growth was across all racial groups, but some grew more than others.
(Source: ESRI Demographics 2019)
(Source: Atlanta Regional Commission)
Our public school populations also have changed—and offer a glimpse at what we might look like in the future
(Source: ARC analysis of Georgia Department of Education data)
The city of Atlanta has the worst income disparity of any big city in the country. In 2016, the richest 5% of Atlantans had an average household income of $306,000, 18 times the average household income of the poorest 20 percent of the city’s households. Only Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. were wealthier.
As a percentage of the region’s overall average, the average weekly earnings of white Atlantans is 122%, versus 68% as the average weekly earnings of black Atlantans.
(Source: American Community Survey)
In 2000, there were 102 high-poverty neighborhoods in metro Atlanta. In 2015, there were 304, with 77 percent located outside the city.
(Source: Joint Center on Housing at Harvard University)
In Vinings, the life expectancy is 87.6 years, the highest in the state. Eight miles away, in the English Avenue neighborhood, the life expectancy is 63.6 years, the second shortest in the state.
(Source: National Center for Health Statistics)
This article is part of What makes us Atlantans and appears in our January 2020 issue.