The U.S. Census Bureau released data from the 2020 census last week and while Southwest Georgia as a region is shrinking in population, Seminole County recorded an increase of 5%. Over the past ten years Seminole County picked up 418 new residents, increasing the county’s population to 9,147, up from 8,729 in 2010.
In fact Seminole County had the fifth largest growth in the region following Lee County with a gain of 4,829; Decatur County with a gain of 1,528; Grady County with a gain of 1,225, and Thomas County with a gain of 1,079.
As a region, the population dropped 2,928 over the decade while Atlanta and the Atlanta metro region grew.
Calhoun and Baker counties experienced a 17 percent drop and Dougherty County lost nine percent of its population over the decade. The decline was less significant in Miller County (two percent) and Early County (one percent).
The counties that grew over the past ten years are Lee County (17 percent), Decatur County County (six percent), Grady County (five percent), Seminole County (five percent) Thomas County (two percent) and Colquitt County (one percent).
The Southwest Georgia region added 9,531 residents in the counties that had growth, but those counties whose population declined totaled a loss of 12,459, for a net region loss of 2,928.
This illustrates the situation facing state leaders as they gather this Fall for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to deal with reapportionment. Georgia law currently stipulates that current House districts are 53,820 people each, but that number is expected to grow to approximately 60,000 per district based on the state’s population growth in the 2020 Census.
Statewide, the Census shows that Georgia grew by 10 percent to over 10.7 million over the last decade adding about a million new people, but not enough to pick up another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nearly half of the state’s growth was in the four largest Atlanta-area counties: Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. Metro Atlanta, for the first time, is now majority non-white.
Statewide, the number of Black Georgians increased by 13%, while the white population dropped by 1%. Meanwhile, the state’s Asian population jumped by 53% and its Hispanic population increased by 32%. The Peach State narrowly remained majority white at just over 50%.
According to news reports Sixty-seven of Georgia’s 159 counties — most of them smaller and rural — lost population, part of a nationwide trend.
Some officials have told state newspapers that the impact of COVID-19 likely contributed to a depression in participation in the Census and the overall count.