The Value of Georgia's Cities

It is in cities where the foundations of our economy are laid, where our identity as a people is anchored, and where we live, work, play and enrich our lives. 

The 2024 edition of The Value of Cities provides a snapshot of the impact cities have in Georgia and the investments they make to secure a vibrant economic future.  



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 24% 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 511,000 Georgians rely heavily on regional partnerships and intergovernmental resources to provide key services like broadband and electricity.

Only 4% 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.


Municipal Finance

The Value of Cities report provides an overview of municipal budgets in Georgia. Here is a look at how revenues and expenditures vary across small, medium and large cities.

  • At least half the budget for medium (50%) and large (56%) cities comes from property and sales taxes.
  • In small cities, sales taxes contribute the largest portion (35%) of the budget by far, followed by other revenue sources* (15%) and property taxes (12%).
  • Small cities rely more heavily on intergovernmental revenues from the state (9%) than medium and large cities do.

*Other revenue sources can include animal control fees, culture and recreation fees, speeding violation fees and more.


  • No matter the size, cities on the whole spend over three-quarters of their budget on three services: Public Safety, Administration* and Public Works. For small cities, these expenditures make up over 90% of their budgets.
  • There is an inverse relationship between city size and Public Works spending. Smaller cities tend to spend a larger portion (33%) of their budget on public works than medium (25%) and large (17%) cities do.
  • Medium and large cities have more room in their budget for services such as parks, recreation, housing, economic development and other programs that growing communities need.

*Administration can include expenditures on elections, human resources, tax assessments, records management, internal audits and more.