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Georgia's population skyrockets

LAWRENCEVILLE - With more than 231,000 new residents in the past year, Georgia became the fourth-fastest growing state in the nation as Louisiana lost 5 percent of its residents.

According to Census data, more than twice as many people were born in Georgia between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006, as died in the state. Along with people moving in, that led to an increase of 231,388 people - a 2.6 percent growth rate.

In August, the Atlanta Regional Commission said Gwinnett County added 25,700 new residents, just 400 fewer than top-growing Fulton County. That gain means that Gwinnett has more new residents than 22 states and the District of Columbia.

County Commissioner Bert Nasuti said he thinks the things that draw people to Gwinnett - a strong local economy and an excellent school system - also bring them to the rest of Georgia.

"We continue to have the fundamental things that attract people here," he said. "I'm not terribly surprised."

County Commissioner Lorraine Green said she thinks officials have done a good job of slowing residential growth in the area, but that the continuously high number of people moving in indicate that Georgia is doing a lot of things right.

More residents are moving here, she said, because they want to share in the quality of life Gwinnett and Georgia residents are already used to.

"Number one, it clearly indicates that Gwinnett can be a fantastic place to live," she said. "It's a clear indicator that all is positive right here in Georgia. We have a great economy, a great climate, our schools are rapidly improving. The leadership of the state of Georgia is doing all the right things."

The south overall added 1.5 million people, the most of any region, according to the Census Bureau. More than 36 percent of the population of the United States now lives in the South.

But in the year that included a massive exodus from New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana lost 220,000 residents. The year before, it had added 12,000 people.

With 579,275 new people, Texas had the most new residents of any state. The other states in the top five include Florida, California and Arizona.