As part of the kick-off for Atlanta Regional Commission’s New Voices: Global Advisory Panel we are sharing updated data about trends in the foreign-born population for metro Atlanta. These charts serve as an introduction to a larger snapshot that will look at the diversity of residents within the foreign-born population; check back for more detail on this topic in the coming months.

In the 10-county metro Atlanta region, our foreign-born population has increased by almost 500 percent between 1990 and 2015, a rapid increase compared to the 40 percent increase in the population as a whole.

In 1990 our 10-county region had just over 100,000 foreign-born residents; now there are close to 700,000 foreign-born in the ARC Region. When we look at  foreign-born residents as a percentage of all residents, this figure was 4.5 percent of the total population in 1990, a share that had grown to 15.5 percent by 2015. In Gwinnett County, the county in the region with the highest share of foreign-born residents, 25 percent of residents were foreign-born in 2015. See the chart “Metro Atlanta: Percentage of Population that is Foreign-Born, 1990-2015” for a look at county-level numbers (hover your mouse over the chart to see values, and click on the legend to filter the chart view).

Note: Data for 1990 and 2000 are from Sample File 3 of the Census; 2010 data are from the American Community Survey’s 5-Year product for 2006-2010 while 2015 data are drawn from the American Community Survey’s 5-Year product for 2011-2015.


We analyzed trends for five major ‘continental groupings’ for foreign-born population: Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and “Other” (which would include Oceania and North America). The foreign-born population in every continental grouping except “Other” more than doubled 1990-2015.

The Latin American population in the 10-county area increased by almost 1,000 percent, from under 30,000 in 1990 to almost 320,000 in 2015. Latin Americans comprised 47% of all foreign-born in the region in 2015, up from 26% in 1990.

The African-born population grew 700 percent 1990-2015, followed by a 400 percent increase in the Asian population over the same period.

Even with the large increase in foreign-born Asian residents from just over41,000 in 1990 to 205,000 in 2015, the Asian share of the region’s foreign-born fell from 37 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2015.

When we look at nearer-term trends, we can see one notable decline in foreign-born population from 2010-2015: the Latin American population decreased one percent from 321,235 to 317,675. Conversely, the Asian population increased most rapidly in the near-term, growing 16 percent (a net increase of 30,000 from 2010 to 2015) compared to only seven percent in the foreign-born population as a whole.

The map below shows foreign-born residents by region of birth for 2015.