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John Besl

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Census figures show strong suburban growth continues in Indiana

Analysis by IU's Indiana Business Research Center

Editors: Please note that the information in this release is embargoed until 12 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 17.

The U.S. Census Bureau has produced population estimates for July 1, 2002. This analysis of the bureau's estimates for Indiana has been issued by the Indiana Business Research Center in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. More information -- including population estimates, rankings and three maps -- will be available at the center's site John Besl also can be reached for interviews at 812-323-0109.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released population estimates for Indiana's 92 counties, revealing that the strong suburban growth trend of the 1990s is continuing unabated into the new century.

Between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2002, Hamilton County's population is estimated to have grown by almost 23,000 people, continuing the rapid growth trend experienced in the 1990s, when the county population increased by nearly 74,000, or 68 percent.

Trailing behind Hamilton County on the growth charts are two other suburban Indianapolis counties -- Hendricks County, with an estimated gain of 10,200 persons, and Johnson County, where population grew by 6,400. Allen County, which includes Fort Wayne and ranks third in population among Indiana counties, rounds out the short list of counties with increases of 5,000 or more.

Indiana's two largest counties, Marion and Lake, have also grown since the Census 2000, but only through natural increase, with resident births surpassing deaths, said John Besl, a research demographer in Indiana University's Indiana Business Research Center.

The IBRC in IU's Kelley School of Business serves as the state's official liaison with the U.S. Bureau of the Census and regularly analyzes state population trends.

The other remaining component of population change -- net migration -- is estimated to be negative for Marion and Lake counties. Over the two years between April 2000 and July 2002, Marion County is estimated to have had a net loss of 12,400 people leaving the county.

When immigrants from abroad are not included, the net outflow of former Marion County residents is estimated at nearly 20,000. "International immigration, largely from Mexico and Central America, offset large losses through migration within the United States," Besl said, adding that 13 Indiana counties experienced domestic net out-migration of 1,000 or more since the census.

The biggest losses through domestic net migration are found in counties containing the state's largest urban centers. Indiana's five largest counties in 2000 -- Marion, Lake, Allen, St. Joseph, and Elkhart counties -- had the largest losses through domestic migration.

"These same five counties had sizable gains through international migration, suggesting that some long-time residents are leaving these counties in response to the inflow of immigants," Besl said.

Leading the way with the largest gains through domestic net migration are five suburban counties outside Indianapolis: Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson, Hancock and Boone counties. Porter County, east of the Gary-Hammond urban center, also experienced a high level of net in-migration.

Hamilton County has leapfrogged Elkhart County to become the state's fifth largest county in population size. The only other counties to move up in rank within the top 20 are suburban neighbors Johnson, which improved from 13th to 11th, and Hendricks, which jumped two places from 16th to 14th.

The five smallest Indiana counties -- Ohio, Union, Warren, Switzerland and Benton counties -- remain under 10,000 in population, as was the case in 2000. All except Benton County, however, have grown since 2000. Ohio, Switzerland, and Warren counties even rank in the top 10 among Indiana's 92 counties on percent population change since 2000, each exceeding 3 percent.

Martin County's population has been remarkably stable for some time, according to the Census Bureau. The county's 1990 and 2000 census counts were identical at 10,369. The new estimate for mid-year 2002 shows a change of one person, changing the county's population to 10,370.