IU report: Indiana’s largest cities seeing resurgent population growth so far this decade

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EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE -- 12:01 a.m. Thursday, May 22, 2014

Editor's note: The Census Bureau adjusts its population estimates for sub-county areas each year to account for city and town boundary changes. Therefore, boundary changes do not contribute to any population changes reported in this release. For more information about these estimates, visit the Population topic page at STATS Indiana.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana’s four largest cities -- Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and South Bend -- have experienced dramatic increases in population change over the past three years, according to 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.

Indianapolis added an average of 7,228 residents per year from 2010 to 2013 to reach a total population of nearly 843,400. This average annual growth is nearly twice as great as the pace set from 2000 to 2010, when the city added roughly 3,800 residents per year. Indianapolis was the nation’s 12th largest city in 2013, ranking just behind Austin, Texas, and ahead of Jacksonville, Fla.

Following a decade where Fort Wayne, Ind., saw essentially flat population change, the city has grown at a pace of 894 residents per year from 2010 to 2013 and is now home to roughly 256,500 people.

Evansville (120,310 residents in 2013) and South Bend (100,886) have posted comparatively mild population change numbers so far this decade, but their recent trends are a stark improvement over the strong population losses of the past decade. Evansville has grown by 82 residents per year over the past three years, compared to an average annual decline of 418 residents from 2000 to 2010. South Bend has continued to lose population this decade at a pace of 44 people a year, while the city declined by nearly 700 residents annually in the past decade.      

Even in the always fast-growing Carmel -- the state’s fifth-largest city at 85,927 residents -- population growth has picked up steam in recent years.

Suburbs still home to the fastest-growing communities

All told, 15 of Indiana’s 20 largest cities have posted a population increase over the past three years. Of this group, the three fastest-growing communities were all in Hamilton County, led by Fishers (2.7 percent average annual growth rate) and followed by Carmel (2.5 percent) and Noblesville (2.4 percent). Greenwood (1.7 percent) and Indianapolis (0.9 percent) complete the top five fastest-growing communities among the state’s larger cities.

Looking at all Indiana cities and towns with a population greater than 2,000, Whitestown in Boone County (home to one of Amazon.com’s largest distribution centers) is the state’s fastest-growing locale, with an average annual growth rate at 10.9 percent from 2010 to 2013. Following Whitestown as the state’s fastest-growing communities so far in this decade are Winfield (3.6 percent annual growth), Westfield (3.3 percent) Bargersville (3.0 percent) and Avon (2.9 percent).

Population ups and downs in Lake County  

According to these estimates, Lake County communities account for five of the six-largest numeric population declines in the state. Hammond and Gary have lost an average of 597 and 591 residents per year, respectively, from 2010 to 2013. Hobart (-175 residents per year), East Chicago (-166) and Highland (-143) have also posted significant losses in recent years. Anderson in Madison County (-168 per year) was the other community to rank among the state’s top six population declines.

While many communities in the northern part of Lake County are losing population, some cities and towns farther south are adding residents. In numeric terms, St. John has led the way by adding an average of 249 people per year over the past three years, followed by Crown Point (177), Winfield (170) and Merrillville (122). In all, only six of the county’s 19 census-designated cities and towns have grown so far this decade.

Town and country

Most Hoosiers live in cities or towns. Of Indiana’s 6.57 million residents, 66.1 percent live in places that were legally incorporated as of Jan. 1, 2013. This share is up just slightly from the 65.9 percent mark recorded in the 2010 census. Indiana’s cities and towns have accounted for 79.2 of the state’s total population growth from 2010 to 2013.

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. It receives support from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for this work, including for the award-winning sites Hoosiers by the Numbers and STATS Indiana.

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