More than half of Indiana’s 92 counties experienced a decrease in population in 2015, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday. Most of the remaining counties saw one of the slowest population growths in decades.
Statewide, Indiana added just under 22,000 residents in 2015. That’s Indiana's second-smallest population gain since 1989.
Matt Kinghorn is an analyst with the Indiana Business Research Center, which analyzed the data. He says this has been a problem for the Midwest for a few decades.
“It’s kind of difficult for Indiana to outperform its context,” Kinghorn says. “Still growing faster than its neighbors, but it’s not growing anywhere near as fast as states in the south or in the west.”
A major cause is people moving to other parts of the country. But, Kinghorn says the economic downturn is a big factor as well. Young people are less likely to buy a house and settle down with a family, and the birth rate has decreased.
Kinghorn says experts were expecting to see a slight increase in population since the economy seems to be doing better.
“At some point I would think that would translate into a little bit of a population growth rebound, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” Kinghorn says. “Sluggish growth has become the norm over the past six or seven years.”
The areas of the state with the most gains in population are metropolitan areas.