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Indiana Business Research Center

George Vlahakis
IU Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Population estimates show slower growth in Indiana so far this decade

12:01 a.m. April 5, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Population change was comparatively sluggish for many of Indiana's high-growth suburban communities in 2011, and declines were widespread in other regions of the state.

Overall, Indiana's population increased by 0.4 percent from 2010 to 2011 -- its lowest one-year growth rate since 1988, according to population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

The Census Bureau has also reported that from 2010 to 2011, the U.S. had its lowest annual rate of population growth since the mid-1940s.

Marion, Hamilton, Allen and Hendricks counties posted the largest population increases among Indiana counties. However, the growth in Hamilton and Hendricks counties was well below their annual averages over the previous decade.

Hamilton County added 6,358 residents in 2011 compared to an average annual increase of 9,183 from 2000 to 2010. Hendricks County's population grew by 2,113 last year compared to 4,136 per year over the previous decade.

In contrast, Marion County's population growth of 6,507 residents in 2011 was well above its average annual increase of 4,294 over the past decade. An accelerated pace of growth in 2011 was rare among Indiana's larger counties, however. Of the 20 counties that led the state in average annual population growth last decade, only three -- Marion, Allen and Bartholomew -- had an increase in 2011 that exceeded their average mark from 2000 to 2010.

Matt Kinghorn, state demographer at the IBRC, said these trends started with the economic recession of 2008 and 2009 and continued as the economy has been slow to rebound.

"The tough economic situation has dampened population movement in Indiana and around the country in recent years," Kinghorn said. "As a result, many fast-growing suburban areas are experiencing lower levels of in-migration. At the same time, some large urban areas like Indianapolis, which has long been a source of migration to the surrounding suburbs, have seen fewer people leave."

Marion County still registered a net out-migration of 1,282 residents in 2011. In all, 64 of Indiana's 92 counties had a net outflow of residents last year, led by Lake (-2,510), Marion and St. Joseph (-1,265) counties. Even though growth has slowed in suburban areas, Hamilton (3,772), Hendricks (1,233) and Johnson (952) counties in the Indianapolis metro area still posted the state's largest net in-migration numbers in 2011. The university communities of Monroe County (834) and Tippecanoe County (654) rounded out the top five in-migration counties.

Indiana's largest counties

Five Indiana counties have populations greater than 200,000. Those counties are led by Marion County, which ranked as the nation's 55th largest county in 2011, with a population of 911,296. The next largest counties are Lake (495,558), Allen (358,327), Hamilton (282,810) and St. Joseph (266,700).

While Marion (0.7 percent growth), Allen (0.7 percent) and Hamilton (2.3 percent) counties grew in 2011, Lake and St. Joseph counties had population declines of 572 (-0.1 percent) and 148 (-0.1 percent), respectively.

Four of the state's five fastest-growing counties in 2011 were in central Indiana, led by Hamilton County. Hendricks County ranked second with a growth rate of 1.4 percent while Johnson and Boone counties both grew by 1.2 percent to rank fourth and fifth, respectively.

In all, the 10-county Indianapolis-Carmel metro area accounted for 67 percent of the state's total population growth in 2011. The IBRC projects that this region will continue to claim a large share of the state's growth, as indicated in the center's latest population projections released last week.

Outside of central Indiana, Bartholomew County had the quickest pace of growth at 1.3 percent, which ranked as the state's third-fastest growth rate in 2011. The rest of the 10 fastest-growing counties consisted of Tippecanoe (1.1 percent), Monroe (1.0 percent), Montgomery (0.9 percent), Jackson (0.9 percent) and Clark (0.9 percent) counties.

More than half of Indiana's counties lost population in 2011

Fifty-one of Indiana's 92 counties lost population last year. According to past Census Bureau estimates, this is the most Indiana counties to post a one-year decline since 1986, when 57 counties lost population.

Lake County had the state's largest population decline in 2011 at 572, followed by Madison County (-417), Greene County (-290) and Jennings County (-283). As for the pace of decline, Blackford County had the highest rate of population loss last year at 1.3 percent, followed by Jennings County (-1.0 percent), Pike County (-0.9 percent) and Greene County (-0.9 percent).

Indiana in comparison

Overall, Indiana added 26,300 residents (a 0.4 percent increase) from 2010 to 2011. This increase was well below the state's average annual growth of roughly 40,300 from 2000 to 2010. A slow pace of population growth was the norm around the country, with the U.S. experiencing its lowest annual rate of population growth since the mid-1940s.

The decline in migration accounts for most of Indiana's slower growth rate. The state had a net inflow of residents last decade, yet the new estimates show a net out-migration of roughly 1,880 in 2011.

The number of births also appears to be down. The Census Bureau estimates that Indiana had roughly 84,700 births from 2010 to 2011. Census Bureau estimates from 2001 to 2009 indicate that the state averaged about 87,600 births per year over that period.

Indiana's numeric population growth from 2010 to 2011 ranked as the 21st largest among states, and its rate of growth ranked 34th. Indiana's growth rate outpaced neighboring Illinois (0.2 percent), Ohio (0.1 percent) and Michigan (-0.01 percent) but was behind Kentucky's rate of 0.5 percent growth.

For more information about these estimates, go to the Population topic page at STATS Indiana.

The IBRC is part of a national network of State Data Centers and acts as the official state representative to the Census Bureau on matters relating to the census and population estimates. The IBRC also develops and maintains STATS Indiana, the award-winning, state-supported Web service.