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Cities on the Rise in Georgia

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by on June 13, 2014

Georgia gained 76,400 jobs between April 2013 and April 2014, and the 7% unemployment rate, while higher than the national average of 6.3%, is trending downward, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More than 277,000 people moved to the state in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and per capita income increased 2.7% to $38,179 in 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

Job opportunities across all economic sectors are increasing and more companies are relocating to the “Peach State,” according to analysts at Wells Fargo Securities, who are “relatively optimistic” about Georgia’s economic prospects for 2014. The state has recaptured 65% of the jobs lost during the recession, analysts found.

Georgia’s cities on rise include middle income and wealthy Atlanta suburbs and military towns. Here’s what all the cities had in common:

  • Six of the top 10 cities saw double-digit increases in their working-age population.
  • The four cities on the top 10 list located outside the Atlanta metro area had military bases nearby.
  • Eight of the top 10 cities on the rise saw income for full-time workers increase by more than 10%.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers for all 37 Georgia cities with more than 20,000 residents to find the cities with the most growth in population, income and jobs. Our analysis examines the following growth metrics from U.S. Census data:

1. Population growth. We measured growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2012.
2. Employment growth. We evaluated growth in the percentage of employed residents from 2009 to 2012.
3. Income growth. We calculated growth in the median income for full-time, year-round workers from 2009 to 2012.

Rank City Nearest Big City 2009-2012 Working-Age Population Growth 2009-2012 Employment Growth 2009-2012 Median Income Growth Overall Growth Score
1 Johns Creek Atlanta 39.1% 0.0% 6.9% 83.3
2 Hinesville Savannah 13.4% (2.8%) 17.3% 76.0
3 Warner Robins Macon 14.5% 0.7% 10.6% 74.5
4 Carrollton Atlanta 5.9% (1.8%) 17.0% 72.9
5 Mableton Atlanta 10.4% (2.3%) 12.6% 69.5
6 Martinez Augusta 35.4% 0.5% (5.3%) 67.9
7 North Atlanta Atlanta (2.2%) 2.2% 10.2% 66.7
8 Sandy Springs Atlanta 16.6% (5.6%) 10.3% 65.2
9 Tucker Atlanta (9.8%) 2.9% 10.2% 63.5
10 Augusta Augusta 2.7% (1.6%) 10.1% 63.4

To view the full ranking of all 37 Georgia cities and download the data, click here.

For a more detailed review of our methodology, please see the section at the end of the study. For more information on these and other places, check out NerdWallet Cities and NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator.

Top 10 Cities on the Rise in Georgia

1. Johns Creek

This city’s 39.1% population growth earned it the top spot on our list. The working-age population, ages 16-64, of this city located north of Atlanta clocked in at 59,122 residents in 2012, and planners expect the city to keep growing. For the future, Johns Creek is focused on sustainable development to preserve the city’s rural roots and prioritize open spaces.

2. Hinesville

Residents in this southern Georgia city saw the median income for full-time workers grow 17.3% from 2009 to 2012 to $36,252, the state’s highest percentage increase in income. Hinesville is south of Savannah and next to Fort Stewart, the largest Army base east of the Mississippi River. More residents work for the government, including the military, than any other economic sector, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

3. Warner Robins

This city in the middle of the state is anchored by Robins Air Force Base. Between 2009 and 2012, the median income for full-time workers in Warner Robins increased 10.6%, and its population saw a 14.5% rise. Like Hinesville, a large portion, 30.4%, of residents work for the government, according to census data.

4. Carrollton

Carrollton residents saw the state’s second-highest percentage increase in median income for full-time workers, growing 17% to $41,248 in 2012. Located about an hour west of Atlanta, Carrollton sits in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and is home to the University of West Georgia.

5. Mableton

This unincorporated area of Cobb County, west of downtown Atlanta, made gains in income and population from 2009 to 2012. Mableton’s working-age population grew 10.4% to 29,507 residents, and the median income for full-time workers increased 12.6%, reaching $47,532 in 2012. Mableton’s Mable House features an amphitheater and arts center, where local residents can take classes and see art exhibits.

6. Martinez

Boasting the second-highest percentage increase in population in the state, Martinez, a suburb north of Augusta, added nearly 7,500 residents from 2009 to 2012. The largest employment sectors in Martinez are education, health care and retail, according to census data.

7. North Atlanta

This census-designated place, located within the city of Brookhaven, saw the median income for full-time workers rise 10.2% from 2009 to 2012, to reach $49,645. Just north of downtown Atlanta, this area is commutable to jobs throughout Atlanta’s metro region. Occupations in management, business, science and arts account for 42.1% of the area’s workforce, according to census data.

8. Sandy Springs

Located north of Brookhaven, the median income for full-time workers living in Sandy Springs increased 10.3%, reaching $54,754 in 2012, and the working-age population reached 77,686, a 16.6% increase during the three-year period from 2009 to 2012. To maintain its identity, Sandy Springs is building a walkable, mixed-use city center with municipal buildings, condominiums, small shops and restaurants.

9. Tucker

Tucker residents, who live east of Sandy Springs, saw median income for full-time workers increase 10.2% to reach $50,152 in 2012. Nearly half, 47.2%, of the working-age residents of this census-designated place in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties work in management, business, science and arts occupations, according to census data.

10. Augusta

In this city, about halfway between Atlanta and the Atlantic Ocean, residents saw the median income for full-time workers increase 10.1% to $35,624 in 2012. The city and county government cooperate to govern the area, which offers diverse employment options including military jobs at Fort Gordon, and faculty and support jobs at Georgia Regents University, which is located in town. The city’s working-age population grew 2.7% from 2009 to 2012.

To view the full ranking of all 37 Georgia cities and download the data, click here.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from these measures:

1. Population growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the working-age population (16+) comes from the 2009 and 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 3-year estimates for all places in the state, Table CP 03.

2. Employment growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the percent of employed residents comes from the 2009 and 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 3-year estimates for all places in the state, Table CP 03.

3. Income growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the median earnings for full-time, nonseasonal workers comes from the 2009 and 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 3-year estimates for all places in the state, Table S2409.

Image: Ken Lund/Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/9Sg7mr

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