Atlanta headed for 8 million people

Expect an additional 2.5 million people, bringing the metro area population from 5.5 million to 8 million by 2040, according to a forecast released today by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Back in 2011, the last time the regional visionaries of the ARC had a gander into the crystal ball, they saw a metro Atlanta of 7.8 million people in 2040.

Back then, the region was still struggling to emerge from the Great Recession. Now, economy is much better, job creation is way up and the flow of new residents from elsewhere to Atlanta has resumed.

Most of the population growth will take place in the suburbs, according to the ARC.

But “significant growth” is also expected in the core of the region — Downtown Atlanta, Midtown, Buckhead and the nearby neighborhoods that are inside I-285.

More than in previous decades of surging growth, people are choosing to live near jobs or transportation, said Jane Hayse, director of ARC’s Center for Livable Communities.

“Walkable communities” are also becoming more popular, she said. “There’s been a change in the region’s development pattern. We see this trend continuing, and even accelerating, over the next 25 years.”

The ARC predicts an additional 1.5 million jobs by 2040.

“The Atlanta region is a hub for high tech, professional services and logistics jobs,” said Mike Alexander, manager of ARC’s Research and Analytics Division. “The region seems to have a solid economic footing for the future.”

Jobs in metro Atlanta will also be concentrated in the region’s core, major employment centers and along major highway corridors. The ARC projects 44 percent of jobs will be located in these areas in 2040.