Population up despite slight decrease recently


Jackson County’s population grew more than 3 percent over the past seven years despite a slight population decrease from 2016 to 2017, new U.S. Census data estimates.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that Jackson County had an estimated population of 43,884 as of July 1, 2017, a decrease from the 43,933 from the same day a year earlier. That decrease represents a decline of less than 1 percent.

Jackson County, however, is still the 34th most populous of the state’s 92 counties and has grown by 1,299 people since 2010.

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Even with the small decrease in 2017, Jackson County outpaced all bordering counties with the exception of Bartholomew, which has had an estimated 6.8 percent increase from 2010 to 2017. Bartholomew, Brown, Jennings, Lawrence, Monroe, Scott and Washington counties all border Jackson.

Monroe was the only other bordering county that showed a population increase during that period, while Brown County had the sharpest decline with a 1.1 percent decrease during the same period.

The census bureau produces data on the nation’s population and economy. The agency releases estimates each year and conducts an official count every 10 years — the next being 2020 — to provide federal, state and local governments data to make decisions. The data also determine the number of congressional seats in states and the distribution of federal funds.

Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., said he thinks there is one thing that has driven the population growth in Jackson County.

“It’s all about jobs,” he said.

Plump said people tend to move to places where they can work, and Jackson County has been fortunate to have ample opportunities for new residents.

Those opportunities have been provided by a number of sectors within the county’s economy but is mainly driven by the industrial, agriculture and service sectors.

“We are a net importer of jobs,” he said. An importer of jobs means more people drive into Jackson County to work than leave.

“That wasn’t always the case,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate in Jackson County to have a lot of jobs available.”

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development showed Jackson County had a workforce of 22,225 in February 2018.

The agency also reported a 3 percent unemployment rate in Jackson County in February 2018, which means the county was tied with three other counties, Daviess, Hendricks and Whitley, for the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in the state. LaGrange and Elkhart counties had the lowest rates at 2.5 percent, and Vermillion County had the highest at 6.6 percent.

The same report showed Jackson County had a 3.5 percent unemployment rate in the same month a year ago.

Indiana had an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, and the national average was 4.4 percent.


“We’ve had a lot of companies that have located here, and we’ve been fortunate once they locate here, they expand here,” Plump said. “The investments over the years like Cummins, Aisin and Lannett that grow and add jobs, that’s the key to the consistency.”

Another key behind it all is the friendly business climate Jackson County has created over the years, Plump said. He said city and town councils throughout Jackson County have been receptive to tax abatements, which allow companies to phase in paying taxes on investments incrementally over a 10-year period, to generate investments.

The county also has pursued workforce training grants to provide companies with a workforce possessing enhanced skill sets to stay competitive, Plump said. Officials’ understanding of manufacturing and logistics also has helped Jackson County land investments from companies.

“We’ve worked to create a very positive and business-friendly attitude,” he said.

And it’s throughout all communities in Jackson County, Plump said.

“I would challenge anyone to find a community that has the industry that Crothersville has,” he said.

The census estimates the southeastern Jackson County town had 1,585 residents in 2016. The town has industry giants Aisin Drivetrain Inc., Aisin Chemical Indiana LLC and Cerrowire.

The community’s commitment to building a strong school system has contributed to its economic success, too, he said.

“A lot of good things are happening throughout Jackson County,” Plump said.

Another driving force behind the population growth is the quality of life Jackson County provides, he said.

When a company considers an investment or location here, company representatives generally take a tour with Plump to see what the county can offer.

Plump pointed to several attributes Jackson County has to attract people here.

Its geographical location between Indianapolis and Louisville is one selling point, along with not being far from Cincinnati.

Arann Banks, executive director of the Jackson County Visitor Center, said Jackson County has a variety of parks, restaurants, festivals and events that sustain the quality of life in Jackson County.

“I think we’re getting better and better and stronger and stronger constantly,” she said. “I don’t see us going backwards at all.”

National trends have shown people are drawn more and more to local unique places that offer a variety of things to do, she said.

“They’re gravitating toward communities like ours,” she said.

There are a number of pillars that help make Jackson County a place that offers a variety of things to do.

Some of those include the outdoors, music and festivals, Banks said.

The county is home to several parks like Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Starve Hollow State Recreation Area, the Jackson-Washington State Forest and the Hoosier National Forest.

“Starve Hollow has events nearly every weekend, and there is always something going on there,” Banks said.

The county also has an abundance of local parks throughout its communities.

Plus, local music events are becoming more attended.

“I think they’re becoming really popular,” Banks said, adding nearly every community has a music event at some point throughout the year.

Crossroads Acoustic Fest will take place in downtown Seymour next month, and Banks said the new festival has generated a lot of interest.

“You add that to the list of other music events, and we have a great music scene here,” she said.

Other music events include Seymour CityJam, Friday Night Live, Brownstown/Ewing Main Street’s concert series at Heritage Park, Vision 2025 concerts and music provided at local restaurants.

Downtown improvements in Seymour and Brownstown also have helped spur interest in the county from residents and visitors alike, she said.

“The Brownstown/Ewing Main Street and Seymour Main Street people have collaborated so well,” she said. “They have been a team effort, and we have a really good, perfect puzzle.”

The county also has a nationally recognized hospital, Schneck Medical Center, that is expanding, which is a big factor for many executives, Plump said.

“When you start adding all these things up, these are key elements in population growth,” he said. “There is a lot of quality of life here.”

Many don’t realize the progress being made throughout the county, Plump said, and sometimes, it takes a person from the outside to see what it has to offer.

“We get told there is a lot going on here a lot of the time,” he said. “Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees.”

So what needs to happen to make Jackson County continue its path of growth?

“Keep getting better,” Plump said.

He pointed to examples of that attitude when a building burned on Chestnut Street in downtown Seymour and the city converted it into Steinker Platz.

“They have green area downtown, and they knew we could do more,” he said. “So now, they’re putting another park in downtown, and then they will move on to something else like the trail system. Those things are important.”

But Plump cautioned the idea that enough had been done to continue the growth.

“The first time you pat yourself on the back too much, you forget about advancing the ball,” he said. “We have to keep it rolling.”

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Jackson County population

2017: 43,884

2010: 42,376

State rank: 34

Jackson County unemployment rate: 3 percent

State unemployment rate: 3.7 percent

National unemployment rate: 4.4 percent

Unemployment rank: Tied for 14th (Daviess, Hendricks, Jackson and Whitley counties)

Jackson County labor force: 22,225

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and Indiana Department of Workforce Development


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