Still growing after all of these years

Demographers tell us that when Gwinnett County's population reaches 1 million, the state of Georgia will have 11 million inhabitants.

That means that one out of every 11 Georgians - 9 percent - will live in Gwinnett. Pretty daunting to think about.

It shouldn't come as a surprise. For years now, Gwinnett has been synonymous with growth. Metro Atlanta was a strong magnet that attracted the U.S. population as it shifted southeast. Once headed this direction, arrivals found Gwinnett, with a thriving business climate, world-class schools and a long list of top-flight amenities, a great place to live.

This county's growth began taking off in the 1970s, led the nation in the '80s, maintained a rapid pace in the '90s and continues today, although it seems to be decelerating.

Gwinnett "only" added 18,033 people last year. Population grew an average of 25,000 over each of the last eight years.

Based on Census estimates from July 2007 to July 2008, Gwinnett dropped off the nation's Top 100 fastest-growing counties list. However, the county still is on the 100 fastest-growing list when comparing 2008 estimates to the last decennial census in 2000. And in just looking at the raw population figure, Gwinnett is the 66th-largest county in the nation.

How much the struggling economy contributed to this slowed growth is hard to pin down, but it's significant. The slowing rate indicates that the 1 million population mark is likely a bit farther into the future than originally predicted.

But make no mistake, it's on its way. Sometime before 2020, one out of every 11 Georgians will be a Gwinnettian.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact. Corrections usually run on Page 4A.

SideBar: At a glance

Here's a look at Gwinnett's data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau:

Population Estimates

· July 1, 2008: 789,499

· July 1, 2007: 771,466

· April 1, 2000 Estimates Base: 588,450

Change in Population, 2007-2008

· Number: 18,033

· Percent: 2.3

Change in Population, 2000-2008

· Number: 201,049 (25,131 per year)

· Percent: 34.2

Population Density

· Average Population (per square mile): 1,834.5

· Area Square Miles: 430

Since the last 10-year census

July 1, 2008: 789,499

July 1, 2007: 771,466

July 1, 2006: 746,169

July 1, 2005: 716,818

July 1, 2004: 692,302

July 1, 2003: 666,978

July 1, 2002: 644,872

July 1, 2001: 621,901

July 1, 2000: 596,343

April 1, 2000: 588,450