The county added 1,300 residents last year after averaging an increase of 800 annually in the three years before that, according to estimates in an Atlanta Regional Commission report.
Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons, who is a member of the regional commission’s board, called the increase in the number of county residents “exciting.”
“This growth in Douglas County, I believe, is indicative of what people have been saying about the opportunities in the county as well as in Douglasville,” he said.
Douglas County Commissioner Ann Jones Guider said, however, that the county is issuing relatively few building permits which leads her to believe many of those new to the county are renters.
“With our building permits for new construction down, I believe we are seeing more people move into apartments or rental homes,” she said, adding that Douglas County is among the leaders in the area in foreclosures.
County Commissioner Kelly Robinson said that “these facts reflect a historical view and should be seen as an outcome of the Great Recession. “
He agreed with Guider that the population increase could be people moving from Cobb and Fulton counties into foreclosed houses investors converted to rental properties.
“A primary driver of population movement, in this case, was economic where ‘forced’ migration caused families to look for cheaper housing alternatives,” Robinson said.
The commission’s report gave estimates on population growth in its 10-county Atlanta region, including Douglas County which grew to an estimated population of 136,000 this year.
For the entire 10-county Atlanta region, an estimated 52,700 residents were added between April 1, 2013, and April 1, 2014, higher than the average increase of 37,283 in the previous three years.
Commission spokesman Jim Jaquish said the population growth in the 10-county Atlanta region “is a sure sign the economic recovery is continuing.”
Gwinnett and Fulton counties reflected the highest individual county growth statistics with average annual increases of 9,695 and 9,360 residents, respectively, between 2010 and 2014.
Persons said the growth shows people from other areas are recognizing the employment potential and other opportunities in Douglas County.
He said he also believed the growth will continue.
“The [regional commission] does a tremendous job with the immediate and long-range growth statistics,” Persons said. “I believe these statistics reflect that Douglas County and Douglasville are among the premier places that people want to live.”