According to figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Pickens County is the 81st fastest growing county in the nation, with Georgia counties appearing on the bureau’s top 100 list more than any other state.
Each year the bureau releases population estimates based on numbers from the most recent census survey. Working from census figures (in this case numbers from the 2000 Census) the bureau updates numbers, using “administrative” information such as migration estimates, utility connections, vehicle registrations and birth and death records, among other sources of information.
According to the Census Bureau, Pickens County had a population of 22,983 in 2000. The bureau now estimates the county has grown 36 percent since 2000 and currently has a population of 31,264.
“This estimate is less than what we think the actual numbers are,” said Pickens County Information Officer Norman Pope, who believes Pickens County is chronically undercounted.
“We have a lot of second homeowners in this county,” Pope said, referring to residents who own mountain homes in gated communities such as Big Canoe and Bent Tree.
“Many of these residents have two homes but declare their homestead exemption elsewhere where the tax rates are higher,” he said. “This is despite the fact that they stay here the vast majority of the time.”
Georgia had 17 counties that made the Census Bureau’s 100 fastest growing counties list, including Cherokee and Dawson counties. Georgia was followed by Texas, which had 13 counties on the list, and Florida with 11.
“The more accurate count we get, the better it will be for funding and grants,” Pope said. “But we’ll just have to wait until next year about this time when the 2010 Census numbers start coming out to see how things will work out.”