Chesterton Tribune

Census 2011: Burns Harbor and Chesterton lead county in population growth; Porter dips

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Porter County held on to its ranking as the ninth most populated county in Indiana, growing nearly 12 percent in the last 10 years.

U.S. Census data released on Thursday for Indiana puts Porter County’s official population count at 164,343, an increase of 17,545 people from the last census in 2000. The county’s official count had been set at 146,798 for the past decade.

The significance of the U.S. Census data can’t be understated: The new figures will be used to determine how federal and state dollars are distributed to counties and municipalities, and the numbers will be used to redraw political boundaries from the U.S. House to county council districts to local municipal wards. Census data, with its wealth of statistics on housing units, ethnicity, and income levels, affect budgeting, planning, business decisions and marketing.

Last year, intense efforts were underway in many communities, including in Duneland, urging people to return their Census surveys. The figures that the U.S. Census Bureau is now releasing state-by-state shows the culmination of those “get counted” efforts.

Lake County continues to be the state’s second most populated county, growing by 2.4 percent, or 11,441 people, in the last decade from 484,564 to 496,005. LaPorte County fell from the 14th most populated county in 2000 to the 15th, growing just 1.2 percent, or 1,361 people, to 111,467.

In Porter County, the two municipalities that grew the most are in Duneland: Burns Harbor grew nearly 51 percent, gaining 390 people, bringing its total to 1,156. Next in line was Chesterton, which grew by nearly 25 percent, adding 2,580 people for a total of 13,068.

Meanwhile, the town of Porter and other beachfront communities all fell in population. Porter’s population now stands at 4,858, a drop of 114 people, while Dune Acres lost 31 people, a drop of nearly 15 percent. Beverly Shores and the Town of Pines also lost population, declining by 13 and 11 percent respectively, while Ogden Dunes’ count fell nearly 16 percent, to 1,110.

At the township level, Liberty Township -- which includes a portion of Chesterton -- was one of the county’s largest growing areas, with a 38.5 percent increase. Only Washington Township and Morgan Township grew by a larger percentage, at 39.7 and 38.6 percent, respectively.

Pine Township, which includes the Pines and Beverly Shores, was the only township in Porter County that showed a drop in population, losing an overal 144 people in the last decade.

Duneland overall -- which is made up of Westchester, Liberty, Jackson and Pine townships and the towns of Chesterton, Porter, Burns Harbor and Dune Acres -- grew by 4,447 people, with a total population count now at 36,752.

The city of Portage continues to be the county’s largest, growing by nearly 10 percent to 36,828. Valparaiso remains the second most populated city, with a growth of 15.7 percent bringing its total to 31,730.

Portage Township -- which includes the municipalities of Portage and Ogden Dunes and the large unincorporated South Haven community -- continues to the county’s largest township, with 47,085 people. Center Township, which includes Valparaiso, continues to be the second largest township, with 43,267 people.

Age-wise, the census data show that nearly 76 percent of Porter County’s residents, or 124,422 people, are at least 18 years old. Lake County’s over-18 count is proportionately lower, at 74 percent, or 368,732 people.

Race data shows that Porter County is 91 percent white (149,995), with blacks or African Americans making up under 3 percent of the population (4,894), American Indiana and Alaska Native at .3 percent (494), Asian at 1.2 percent (1,994), and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander at .02 percent (36). Another 3,818 people are identified as other races, while 3,112 are identified as two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race number 13,933.

Lake County is more racially diverse, whites making up 64 percent of the total, blacks or African Americans at 26 percent, and Asians at 1.2 percent. Hispanics and Latinos of any race total 82,663 in Lake County.

Though the last official census was in 2000, census figures have been updated with estimates each year. While some of the 2009 estimates came close to the official numbers released Thursday, others were off. For example, the 2009 estimate for Chesterton was 12,842, or 266 below the official count, while Porter’s estimate in 2009 was 5,410, or 552 higher than the actual count.

For more information on the Census data for Indiana, see




Posted 2/11/2011