Atlanta, other Georgia cities lag in growth

Texas, California and even Tennessee left Georgia in the dust last year when it came to cities with the fastest population growth -- not something to which the Peach State is accustomed. Here's a quick look:

How does Atlanta stack up?

With an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent for 2014, it's No. 146 on the list of the nation's fastest growing cities. On the other hand, one-year estimates are often squishy. Looking over the past four years, Atlanta's growth is more robust: an estimated 8.5 percent, giving it a national rank of 82.

And in absolute numbers?

Atlanta gained an estimated 7,600 people between 2013 and 2014, ending up with roughly 456,000 residents. Only 22 cities added more bodies. (Of course, Houston, at the top of the list, gained 35,000 in that single year - as many as Atlanta added in four.)

The top 10 nationwide
1. San Marcos, Texas
Growth: 7.9%
Population: 58,892

2. Georgetown, Texas
Growth: 7.6%
Population: 59,102

3. Doral, Fla.
Growth: 7%
Population: 54,116

4. Frisco, Texas
Growth: 5.8%
Population: 145,035

5. South Jordan, Utah
grew 5.7%
Population: 62,781

6. Conroe, Texas
Growth: 5.2%
Population: 65,871

7. McKinney, Texas
Growth: 5.1%
Population: 156,767

8. Milpitas, Calif.
Growth 5.1%
Population: 73,672

9. Meridian, Idaho
Growth: 5.1%
Population: 87,743

10. Castle Rock, Colo.
Growth 4.9%
Population: 55,747

San Marcos, Texas, home of Texas State University (TSU photo)

Text and research by Victoria Loe Hicks,

Smyrna City Hall

Fastest-growing in Georgia
Smyrna - 2.7 percent
National rank: 50

Sandy Springs - 2.1 percent
National rank: 93

Atlanta - 1.7 percent
National rank: 146

Marietta - 1.4 percent
National rank: 199

Alpharetta - 1.4 percent
National rank: 220

Why shouldn't Atlanta panic?
Let's take the long view. Remember, the city lost about 100,000 people between 1970 and 1990 and has been clawing its way back ever since (You may not have noticed it, because the city's decline was largely obscured by the region's growth.) "This is not a no-growth story. This is not a slow-growth story," said Mike Carnathan, an analyst for the Atlanta Regional Commission. If the four-year growth estimate of 35,000 is correct, he said, "that's pretty remarkable."

What the data measures
These are estimates, subject to error. The smaller the city, the greater the potential for error. The figures estimate growth between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, for all cities in the United States with more than 50,000 people.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, annual population estimates