Chesterton Tribune

Prediction puts Porter County on list of fastest growing Indiana counties

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s population will grow by 1 million to 7.48 million people by 2050 with most of the growth occurring in the Indianapolis-Carmel metropolitan area, according to projections from the Indiana Business Research Center.

Besides becoming much more urban than rural, the state will continue to grow grayer, with aging baby boomers increasing the over-65 share of the state population to 20 percent compared to 13 percent in 2010, according to the center based at Indiana University.

Outside central Indiana, other fast-growing areas of the state will include Clark and Harrison counties in the Louisville metro area, which will grow by 35 percent and 22 percent, respectively, the center projects. Warrick County in the Evansville metro area, along with Porter County in northwest Indiana and Elkhart County in north central Indiana, each should grow by 25 percent increase.

Meanwhile, large swaths of mid-sized and rural communities in north, east and west-central Indiana are projected to lose population over the next 40 years. Many counties in southwest Indiana are also likely to lose people. Forty-nine of Indiana’s 92 counties are forecast to lose population.

The Indianapolis-Carmel area already is the fastest growing part of the state, adding 231,000 residents, or 57 percent of the state’s growth, during the decade ending in 2010. By 2050, roughly one in every three Hoosiers will live in that metro area, up from about one in four in 2010.

“That area will claim up to 70 percent of the state’s growth over the next 40 years,” state demographer Matt Kinghorn told The Herald-Times.

Hamilton County will continue to be the state’s fastest-growing county as it doubles in size to 548,000 residents by 2050, the center projected. If that happens, Hamilton would surpass Lake and Allen counties to become the state’s second most populous county.

Over the same period, Hendricks County’s population will climb to 268,000 residents, an 84 percent increase. Boone, Hancock and Johnson counties, also in the Indy metro area, also are forecast to be among the state’s five fastest-growing communities.

Baby boomers becoming seniors will add 600,000 people to the state’s over-65 demographic, the center projects.

Kinghorn said that could mean Indiana will feel a significant impact in areas such as appropriate housing, health care delivery and transportation needs.

Other age groups will decline in their proportion of the state’s population pie but their numbers still will grow. Both Indiana’s child population (age 0 to 14) and its younger adult age group (25 to 44) will increase by 75,000 by 2030, and those around college age will increase by 25,000. Indiana’s older working-age population (45 to 64) will decline by roughly 100,000 over the same period as baby boomers retire.

"One important effect of this graying of the population will be the slowing of Indiana’s population growth rate in the coming decades,” Kinghorn said. “While migration plays an important role in population change, natural increase typically accounts for the majority of Indiana’s growth.

However, Indiana isn’t aging as rapidly as some other Midwestern states and that could prove beneficial in certain sectors of the job market.


Posted 3/29/2012