The Value of Georgia's Cities
The annual update of the GMA Value of Cities report is now available. Click the link to view and download it.
GMA Value of Cities 2023
Highlights and more from the 2023 report:
While cities make up just 9% of the state's overall land area, the nearly 4.8 million people who reside in Georgia cities represent 44% of the total state population.
Cities are dense economic and cultural hubs that provide 69% of jobs in Georgia and see their population increase by 25% in the daytime due to commuting. Cities provide services to both their "daytime population" and their resident population.
On the whole, cities also tend to be more racially diverse: there are 1.1 White residents for every Black resident; whereas in unincorporated areas, there are 2.4 White residents for every Black resident.
Three-quarters of Georgia cities have a population of 5000 or less, on par with the country as a whole. These small communities that together serve over 512,000 Georgians continue to rely on intergovernmental partnerships and resources for key services like broadband and electricity.
Only 3.5% of Georgia cities have a population above 50,000, but together they represent almost 2.3 million Georgians.
In 2022, the Census Bureau redefined the criteria for urban and rural areas, the classification of which plays a role in how federal dollars are distributed. The population threshold to classify as an urban areas was lifted to 5,000 from 2,500. The 2020 Census urban areas following this update can be found here. Some cities below 5,000 may be an urban area if they meet certain new housing criteria of having at least 2,000 housing units. This PBS article provides an overview of the reclassification.
Despite covering just 9% of the state's land area, cities are home to 42% of all single-family and 74% of all multifamily housing structures in Georgia.
The share of municipal revenues from the federal government doubled from 4% to 8% in FY2021, largely owing to the critical infusion of pandemic relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. This unprecedented level of funding for local governments has been a lifeline for struggling households, businesses and government operations - pointing to the
Property taxes, typically making up the largest share of municipal revenues, dropped from 31% to 27% of total municipal revenues in FY2021. Property taxes still contribute the most to municipal revenues, followed closely by sales taxes (24%).