published Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Census likely to show North Georgia growth


by Andy Johns

Tennessee and Georgia will find out the results of last year’s population counts when the U.S. Census Bureau releases numbers for both states next week.

The first batch of statistics will include information that legislators will use for redistricting, including population totals, race and age data broken down by congressional districts, cities and other tracts of land.

“By law, we have to do this first,” said Genora Barber, information services specialist at the regional census office in Atlanta. “After that all of the other information will come out.”

Doug Bachtel, a demographics expert at the University of Georgia, said he expects the number of minorities, especially Hispanics, in Georgia and Tennessee to increase significantly because of higher birth rates and immigration.

The metro Atlanta area and the North Georgia mountains likely will show the most population growth, he said, while South Georgia’s numbers are expected to shrink. The mountain populations should skew older because of retirees, but the North Atlanta suburbs and the Interstate 75 corridor likely will grow with families and young people moving to the area in search of jobs, he said.

“Growth begets growth, so we’ll see a continuation of that,” he said.

This is only the first chunk of data the census bureau will release, Barber said. Later releases will “drill down” to smaller geographic areas and specific population groups.

The bureau has released information a few states at a time over the last month leading up to April 1, when it is legally required to hand over the figures to the president and Congress. Georgia and Tennessee will be among nine states to get their information next week.

“We work extremely hard to get the public interest going that the census is coming out,” Barber said. “Once you start to see some of the numbers, you kind of tell yourself, ‘Job well done.’”

Federal, state and local governments use the data, Bachtel explained, but businesses also look at population trends when deciding where to locate.

“There’s a lot of stuff associated with the census figures,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize the importance in that.”

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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