The Two Fast-Growing Counties in Georgia Are Exploding in Growth

Atlanta, Georgia, USA midtown skyline from Piedmont Park in autumn.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kaleigh Moore

Updated: November 15, 2023

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Georgia has experienced rapid growth recently, outpacing several states that had taken the mantle. It currently ranks 11th among the fastest-growing states in the US. The state has attracted new residents and businesses, earning it its reputation as the Hollywood of the South. Georgia’s technology and innovation sectors, trained labor, and excellent infrastructure have all attracted businesses that have created new markets and opportunities.

While all the counties have generally experienced growth, two of them in particular – Lumpkin and Dawson, have experienced accelerated growth in population and economy. They have even made national headlines for having some of the highest population growth rates in the country. Let’s explore each of the counties to examine their exploding growth.

Dawson County

General Overview of the County

Dawson County is located in the northern-east part of Georgia. It sits at the foothills of the famous North Georgia Mountains, approximately 40 miles from Atlanta. You can explore the county via State Road 400.

This country came into being in 1857 and received its name in honor of William Crosby, a celebrated soldier, judge, and lawyer from the location. William had died in 1833, just before the county was established. Soon after its formation, Dawson County took part in the Civil War in the 1860s on the Confederate side.

The county occupies an area of 214 square miles. About 3.6 square miles are covered by water bodies. It is located in the UTC-5 Eastern Time Zone, and the largest city in the county is Dawsonville.

A welcome to Georgia sign in front of a rolling meadow with trees in the background.

With beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, it’s no wonder why so many people are making their homes in Georgia.

Pointers to the Growth of the County

Several areas point towards an explosion in growth in Dawson County. There has been steady population growth since early 2000. The pace has accelerated in the last five years. Between 2021 and 2022 alone, the US Bureau of Statistics found that the county recorded a whopping 5.8% jump in population, moving from 28,475 to 30,138. Let’s explore some of the main points and compare them with a few areas in the country.

Population Growth

Dawson County in Georgia is growing at a rate that outpaces its neighboring counties. It has comparatively smaller population figures than Fulton and Gwinnett, with 1,074,634 and 975,353 people respectively. Most populations swell when cities are built, yet no other county has seen an increase as large as Dawson County has.

Projections indicate that the population of this county stands to increase further in the coming years. With 60% of its population aged 18 to 65, it boasts a large working force, which will likely increase the likelihood of growth. Moreover, other aspects may make Dawson County attractive to a higher number of inhabitants in the future.

Economic Growth

Let’s look at some pointers for economic growth.

Unemployment Rates

Dawson County does better than most counties across Georgia in economic growth and rapid expansion of industries. Its unemployment rate has stood at 2.9% since the start of the year. The rate has improved from 4.75% in 2020. Besides, only 9% of its residents live in poverty. Fulton needs to be better placed, as 13.7% live below the poverty line. In Gwinnett, 10.8% of the population lives in poverty.

To illustrate the improvement in employment rates, let’s check out some historical data from 2010. At the time, the unemployment rate in the county was a whopping 11%. Considering the country has seen a relative decline in economic growth, especially during the pandemic, a 2.9% unemployment rate is impressive.

 Lady raising her arms up celebrating.

People are flocking to Dawson County for jobs and enjoying a booming economy.

Growth in Domestic Gross Product

Like employment, the gross domestic product (GDP) has grown in Dawson County. Alfred St. Louis says the GDP was 936,216 (in thousands of US dollars) as of December 8, 2020. It has grown to 1,066,531 in a year. The GDP is estimated to hit $1,200,000 by the end of 2023. As new residents join the county, companies are selling more and growing.

Currently, the county employs over 12,700 residents. The largest industry in the county is retail trade, with over 1500 people, followed by healthcare and social assistance at 1469. Other large sectors include educational services, utilities, information, finance, and insurance.

The median income for men in the county area is about $47,380 and $32,467 for women, while the household income is approximately $73,616. The national average for household income stands at $58.759.

Quality of Life in Dawson County

Growth in Dawson County can be used to gauge the quality of life there. White-collar employment makes up a sizable share of its workforce, which is indicative of the area’s metropolitan nature. The county’s progress raises the standard of living, making it a desirable location to reside.

General Health

Over the years, the population’s general health has improved above the national average in various ways. Only about 18.2% of the residents smoke. This is below the national median of 20%. Many people in the county live to be 77.5 years old. Residents also experience fewer lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, than the national average.

A nurse standing by the side of a patient.

Access to healthcare services is essential for residents to lead healthy lives and thrive.

Security

A high employment rate and increasing incomes have lowered insecurity in the county. The county experiences fewer than 100 violent crimes per 100,000 people. This is less than half of the national average of 395.7/100k.

What are the Growth Prospects for the County?

The growth prospects are the main reason people are willing to relocate to this county. Before the rapid growth of towns in the county, a large part of the population worked in agriculture. This sector remains one of several that have high prospects for growth.

According to the University of Georgia, every dollar invested in agriculture generates seven dollars in the economy. Besides, the growing urban population is creating a huge market for agricultural products. The university recommends poultry, livestock, and grain farming to those wishing to grow in the sector.

Another sector that is expected to grow soon is the retail sector. It is, so far, the largest employer in the county. As the population continues to grow, it is expected to expand. Dawson County has a good infrastructure that enables easy commerce. The sector will use this road and internet infrastructure to expand.

Lumpkin County

General Overview of the County

Lumpkin County is also located in the northern-east part of the State of Georgia. It borders Dawson County to the northeast. The county has a total area of 284 square miles, of which 1.3 square miles are covered by water.

This county was formed in 1832 and named for Wilson Lumpkin, one of the pioneer governors of the area. One of the towns in the county, called Marthasville, was designated to be the capital of the state after the Civil War. Unfortunately, this did not happen, and the money went to Atlanta. Gold was also discovered in 1830 in the county, and some of it was used to build the dome of the state capitol building in Atlanta.

Currently, only 56% of the land is for residences. The remaining 44% lies within the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest. Besides, the Blue Ridge Mountains take up about 283 miles of land in the county.

Close up of the seal of Georgia.

Lumpkin County, Georgia is one of the fastest growing counties in the state thanks to its wealth of outdoor activities and strong job market.

Pointers to the Growth of the County

Lumpkin County has made the headlines due to its impressive growth in the last five years. Let’s explore some of the critical areas leading to the growth while comparing it with other counties with similar features.

Population Growth

According to the county government, Lumpkin County has experienced a population growth rate of 43% in the last ten years. The population has grown by 5.3% in just two years, making it one of the top counties by population growth.  

The population currently stands at 34,796, increasing from 33,487 two years ago. It is still one of the least populated counties in the state and dwarfs large counties such as Fulton and Gwinnett by over 15 times. However, the current economic trends are pushing people to smaller counties. Lumpkin will benefit from movement, which is expected to continue well into the future.

Also, the latest data shows that more than 64% of its residents are between 18 and 65 years of age. These could form families in the future, further increasing the population. This number also creates a considerable workforce for the country to enhance its growth.

Economic Growth

Lumpkin County is generally rural but high performing. The main sectors that hold the economy together are education, tourism, and retail. Here is an overview of the economic growth and trends in the county and the prospects for its future.

Employment Rates

Lumpkin County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Georgia and the rest of the country. The rate stood at about 2.7% as of March 2023. The figure oscillated with +/- 3 in the last three months.

This county has had relatively reasonable employment rates over the years but has also suffered from pandemic-related economic downturns. The highest recorded unemployment rate was 13% in June 2009.

Two years ago, the employment rate was about 4.8%. However, in the last year, the month-on-month unemployment rates have not gone above 2.9%. This is a testament to the growth of the economy.

Close up of an employee working on her laptop.

Working professionals are helping to create a vibrant and diverse local community.


Growth in Domestic Gross Product

The recent surge in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) paints a picture of a thriving economy. According to data, the county’s GDP skyrocketed from $443,496 in 2002 to $947,147 in 2020. By the end of 2021, it had reached $1,043,973 and this upward trajectory is expected to continue until the end of 2023, with projections as high as $1,100,000. This growth in GDP is a sign that the economy is flourishing and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Currently, there are over 15,700 workers employed in the county. Like Dawson County, the retail sector employs the most workers, followed by administrative support and production options. However, unlike Dawson Country, there are more employees in the hospitality industry and education services.

Tourism is one of the biggest service industries in Lumpkin County. There are also many tertiary institutions, both of which employ a significant number of workers. These two sectors have seen over 10% growth within the last five years and are expected to grow by over 10% within a similar period.

Income levels

Men earn a median salary of $32,971 while women earn $26,178, and the median household income stands at about $61,875. These numbers are significantly lower than those of adjacent Dawson County. However, household incomes are higher than the national median of $58,759.

The Quality of Life in the County

Security

The growth in employment rates has enhanced the security situation in the county. A US News study places the prevalence rate of violent crimes at just 41.4 per 100,000 residents, against the national meridian of 204.5 per 100,000.

Security guards standing next to security dogs.

With more job opportunities available, residents are more secure and able to build strong communities together.

Education

The education sector has reported the highest growth. It employs a large portion of the residents in the county. Besides, more people are graduating from high school and getting advanced degrees than the national average.

Its high schools report an excellent 96.0% graduation rate. The national median is 89.4%. Also, 37.6% of the population has an advanced degree, compared to a national median of 30.6%.

What are the Growth Prospects for the County?

Lumpkin County authorities have a comprehensive plan to enhance various sectors of the economy in light of economic developments. The county is expected to continue attracting many working-class residents looking for cheaper land and rural settings while staying within commuting distance of their workplace.

For that reason, it is keen to grow the network and road infrastructure in the county. We expect an increase in the number of new towns in the county. The commercial sector will grow along with the explosion in population in these areas. Experts predict the sector to surpass education soon. 

The population growth will also push the education and service sectors. However, these sectors will also grow due to direct initiatives set by the county government. People who wish to join the county can join any of these sectors.

Are there Other Fast-Growing Counties in Georgia?

Several counties in the northern and southeastern parts of the state have reported speedy growth. However, counties in the central, southern, and southwestern regions are experiencing a decline in growth.

Some of the other fastest-growing counties in Georgia include Jackson, Haralson, Caroll, Paulding, and Jasper. To the southeast, the fastest-growing ones are Long, Bryan, Effingham, and Bulloch counties. These will be the counties to watch in the next five years.

Downtown Atlanta skyline.

Whether you’re looking for a job, housing, or great schools – Georgia has something to offer for everyone.

Lumpkin and Dawson Counties are the Fastest Growing in Georgia

Lumpkin and Dawson counties are the fastest-growing counties in Georgia. We have witnessed these counties get an explosive population growth rate of about 5.8% in just two years. This put them at the top of the list of the fastest-growing counties in the country. The growth has been caused by factors. Some include better quality of life, cheaper land, and growth prospects in various industries.

They all have a large potential for growth as they still have lots of unoccupied land, natural resources, and proximity to a metropolis such as Atlanta. We expect each to see growth in various sectors like retail, production, and agriculture. Georgia is also one of the fastest-growing states. The growth will be replicated in many counties in the state.

Summary of the Two Fast-Growing Counties in Georgia

CountySizePopulation GrowthInteresting Data
1Lumpkin284 square miles 5.8% jump in population between 2021 and 202296.0% graduation rate
2Dawson214 square milespopulation has grown by 5.3% in just two years$1,200,000 GDP projected for 2023
Summary Table of The Two Fast-Growing Counties in Georgia


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