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Metro Atlanta adds more than 150,000 people

LAWRENCEVILLE - More than 150,000 people moved to metropolitan Atlanta in a year, making it one of the most popular destinations in the country.

Only Dallas had more new residents from July 1, 2006, to July 1, 2007, according to Census data released today.

That metropolitan area - which includes Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas - had 162,250 new residents in the yearlong period. The Atlanta region, which includes Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and 25 other counties, added 151,063 new residents.

Mike Carnathan, a researcher for the Atlanta Regional Commission, said the region has added nearly 1 million new residents since 2000, at a rate of about 150,000 people a year.

"It's right at average every single year since 2000," Carnathan said. "It doesn't necessarily represent a huge growth spurt."

The ARC expects a slight slowdown in new residents for the same period from 2007 to 2008, he said, because the number of building permits and the rate at which land has been developed has also slowed in the region. But he said people will keep coming to metro Atlanta, which had a 2.9 percent growth rate.

That increase makes it the 24th fastest-growing region in the country. With an additional 7,784 residents and a 4.5 percent growth rate, the Gainesville metropolitan area is the fourth-fastest-growing in the country and the Athens-Clarke County region, with 4,059 new residents and a 2.2 percent growth rate, is 55th in the nation.

Carnathan said jobs in the Atlanta are relatively stable, and the region hasn't experienced the same housing burst as other areas in the country have. But if people are unable to sell their homes in New York in California, he said, they're less likely to be able to move to Georgia.

"All in all, the growth will last," he said. "Atlanta's well-positioned. ... Metro Atlanta is a draw for the entire state of Georgia. Metro Atlanta is the economic engine of the state."