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Political Rewind: Census Reveals Nation's Shifting Demographics, And Georgia Is No Different

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Credit: Sam Bermas-Dawes, GPB News

Friday on Political Rewind: Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals Georgia grew in ethnic and racial diversity over the past decade, while the share of the population living in rural areas of the state shrank compared to urban counties. 

The state's demographic shifts mirror broad changes happening across the country. Nationwide, data revealed more Americans are moving into cities and suburbs while a decreasing number identified as white.

In Georgia, the census data showed the percentages of Hispanic, Black and Asian-Americans Georgians grew by double digits. Georgians identifying as white stands at 50.1% of the state’s population, down from around 60% in the 2010 census report.

The metro Atlanta area saw rapid changes over the past decade. In the 29 counties of the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area, covering much of north Georgia, the percentage of residents identifying as white was around 44% in 2020, down from 51% in the 2010 census.

"I think it's the type of trend that will continue to build on itself when communities are now known as being majority-minority and are attracting minority families for the schools, for the lower cost housing and are a diverse community that is successful," Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Patricia Murphy said.

A lack of economic opportunity could be one of the major forces pushing Georgians out of rural areas. Former state Attorney General Sam Olens said the movement of people to urban areas has been happening for decades and could be counteracted by state and federal investment in rural infrastructure.

"This isn't a brand-new phenomenon," Olens said. "The most promising news for rural Georgia would be the new emphasis on broadband. It is really hard to get the quality businesses they want and to keep the young people they want to retain without broadband."

The demographic trends suggest a major shift in political power could be underway. During this fall's consequential redistricting process, lawmakers will redraw the lines of legislative districts in Georgia using the new census data.

We asked our panel how they think the census report will shape state and national politics in the next decade.

Panelists:

Sam Olens — Former Georgia attorney general

Michael Thurmond — DeKalb County CEO

Patricia Murphy — Political reporter and columnist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Copyright 2021 Georgia Public Broadcasting

Bill Nigut has been a program host and producer at Georgia Public Broadcasting since November, 2013. He currently hosts “Two Way Street,” a show that features long-form conversations with authors, artists, chefs, scientists and other creative people who have fascinating stories to tell. He is host and producer of “Political Rewind,” a twice-weekly political roundtable show featuring some of Georgia’s best-informed insiders weighing in on the big state and national political stories.
Emilia Brock is a producer for GPB's program, "On Second Thought."
Sam joined the Political Rewind team in 2019. He graduated American University in 2015 with a degree in journalism and spent time in North Carolina as a reporter at WCHL in Chapel Hill.