ANDERSON — Indiana University demographers pointed to the death toll from COVID-19 as well as declining fertility rates as key factors in adding just 20,341 residents in 2021.
According to a study conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center at the university’s Kelley School of Business, last year’s net population gain represents the state’s smallest annual increase since 2015. It is well below the gain the state’s average annual population of about 30,200 over the previous decade. . For additional perspective, the state’s natural population increase — the number of births minus the number of deaths — was just 690 last year.
“The main cause of this slower growth was a sharp increase in the number of deaths in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll,” said Matthew Kinghorn, senior demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center. “At the same time, fertility rates in Indiana have continued to decline, resulting in just 77,600 births last year – the lowest annual state tally on record since the late 1960s.”
The study contained what some consider good news for Madison County. Researchers consider the county to be part of the 11-county Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson region, which added about 13,100 residents last year, or 64% of the state’s net growth in 2021.
“It benefits us to be part of this overall region, but what you’ve seen in particular with the pandemic is that people were leaving very densely populated city centers and moving (to) more suburban (areas) and more rural,” said Clayton Whitson. , president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s good for us. Madison County is therefore very well positioned to capture growth from the Indy metro area.
The region’s growth rate of 0.6% outpaced that of major metropolitan areas in neighboring states, including Columbus, Ohio (+0.5%), Cincinnati (+0.1%), Detroit (-0.5 %), Cleveland (-0.5%) and Chicago (-1%).
Whitson said the IU study “served as a bright, flashing light” to remind local governments to continue prioritizing infrastructure upgrades and bringing improved amenities to the region.
“People make choices of where to live now based on where they want to raise their family,” he said. “What is there to do there? What is the quality of the schools? We are in the digital age where people can work remotely from anywhere. What are we doing to prepare ourselves to say, “If you choose anywhere to work, what sets us apart?” »
The Fort Wayne area led all Indiana metros with a growth rate of 0.7% to a total population of over 423,000. Other Indiana metro areas to show relatively strong growth include Lafayette-West Lafayette (0.5%), Columbus (0.4%) and Bloomington (0.3%).
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