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Matt Kinghorn
Indiana Business Research Center

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Indiana's largest city and town population gains come in the Indianapolis area and Lake County

July 1, 2009

Editors: Matt Kinghorn, an economic analyst at the Indiana Business Research Center, is available to discuss population estimates for Indiana. He can be reached at 812-856-0459 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates for all cities, towns and townships in the United States, as of July 1, 2008, today (July 1). The Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, as a part of its role as the state demographer and Indiana's official representative to the Census Bureau, has analyzed these population estimates and share the following insights.

Population Change, 2000-2008

Notably for Indiana, the largest population gains among cities and towns within the last year were concentrated in the Indianapolis metro area and in Lake County. However, four of the state's six largest cities have seen population decline since 2000.

Indiana's largest cities

Four Indiana cities had populations greater than 100,000 in 2008: Indianapolis (798,382), Fort Wayne (251,591), Evansville (116,309) and South Bend (103,807). Only Indianapolis has experienced consistent population growth since 2000 with a 2.1 percent increase. Fort Wayne lost population earlier in the decade but has since rebounded to have essentially the same population total in 2008 that it had in 2000. Evansville and South Bend have each had population declines of 4 percent since 2000.

Indianapolis was the 14th largest city in the United States in 2008, ranking just behind Jacksonville, Fla., and just ahead of Austin, Texas.

Among Indiana's 20 largest cities, Fishers is the fastest growing with an 80.6 percent increase between 2000 and 2008. Others include Noblesville (43.4 percent), Greenwood (30.9 percent), Carmel (25.2 percent) and Lawrence (11.1 percent).

Out of the top 20 largest cities, those with the greatest population rate of decline since 2000 include Hammond (-7.6 percent), Gary (-6.6 percent), Muncie (- 4.7percent), Evansville (-4.4 percent) and South Bend (-4.2 percent).

Fishers also had the largest numeric growth of all Indiana cities with a gain of 30,803 residents since 2000. This gain is substantially larger than second-place Indianapolis, which grew by 16,515. However, Fishers' increase of 2,929 residents between 2007 and 2008 was its lowest mark since 2005.

Indianapolis had the largest numeric population gain between 2007 and 2008 with 3,517 new residents.

Suburbs still growing

Hamilton County is home to three of the top four cities in numeric gains between 2000 to 2008 -- Fishers, Noblesville and Carmel. The eight cities with the largest population gains were located in just four counties -- all in the Indianapolis metro area, Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson and Marion.

The top 15 gainers are concentrated exclusively in either the Indianapolis metro area or Lake County. Portage (ranked 16th), Mishawaka (18th), Lafayette (19th) and Goshen (20th) were within the top 20 largest gainers outside the Indianapolis metro area or Lake County.

Gazelle communities

The town of Winfield in Lake County is the fastest growing city or town, with a 120.1 percent increase since 2000, bringing its 2008 population estimate to 4,484.

Following Winfield are Kempton (86.1 percent), Fishers (80.6 percent), New Palestine (64.8 percent) and Pittsboro (61.6 percent).

Town and country

Most Hoosiers live in incorporated cities or towns. Of Indiana's 6.4 million residents, 64.7 percent live in places that were legally incorporated as of Jan. 1, 2008. This share is down only slightly from the 2000 population estimate level of 65.6 percent.

Population growth in unincorporated areas of the state accounted for 74 percent of the state's total growth between 2001 and 2005. Today's estimates show that this trend has sharply reversed in the last three years. Incorporated areas in Indiana accounted for 71 percent of total growth between 2006 and 2008.