Study: Indiana sees smallest population increase since 2015
Indiana added just under 20,000 residents last year, according to an analysis by the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. The change is the smallest annual increase since 2015 and only the second time in 35 years that Indiana added fewer than 20,000 residents in a year. The analysis adds that 75% of Indiana counties saw a natural population decrease in 2022.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IBRC Senior Demographer Matt Kinghorn said the low number of new residents can be largely attributed to a small rate of natural population increase.
“That’s is really just the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths,” Kinghorn said. “We are in an extended period of very low fertility rates in Indiana, and that hasn’t changed. And so the number of births in the state is really low.”
Indiana saw only 1,204 more births than deaths last year. Comparatively, 24 states had a natural decrease in 2022, meaning deaths outnumbered births.
Kinghorn said the number of deaths in Indiana is largely due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. However, he noted the analysis looked at population estimates from July 2021 to June 2022.
“So when we think back to last winter, we were still had really a lot of COVID related deaths,” he said. “And so thankfully, we haven’t seen a repeat of that this winter. So hopefully, we’ll start to see the the natural increase of the population start to trend up now.”
With the state’s natural increase as low as it was, the IBRC said Indiana’s population gains were fueled mostly by a strong net in-migration of more than 20,720 residents.
The study said 55 of Indiana’s 92 counties posted a population gain in 2022. Hamilton County had the largest increase at 2.1%, followed by Ohio County at 2.0%, Hendricks County at 1.7%, and Boone and Switzerland counties at 1.6% each.
Kinghorn noted there are hopeful signs that the state is seeing a better distribution of population growth. He said one of the most notable findings is that five of the 16 fastest-growing counties in Indiana are rural counties.
“When we group rural Indiana all together, rural Indiana grew last year,” he said. “Whereas if we look in the past decade, rural Indiana as a whole was declining. So I think that that is very hopeful news. I think that we’re seeing some some better distribution of population growth. I hope that that can be a long running trend and not just a blip right now.”
Meanwhile, Marion County had the largest population decline in the state for the second consecutive year. The state’s most populous county lost about 2,180 residents, or about 0.2%. LaPorte County had the second-largest decline at 811 residents, followed by Vanderburgh, Monroe and Miami counties.
The analysis also showed when compared to large metro areas in neighboring state’s, the Indianapolis metropolitan area’s growth rate of 0.6% trailed only Columbus, Ohio, which grew 0.7%.