Jackson County becomes more diverse


By Mitchell Banks

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While many of the state’s rural counties lost residents between 2010 and 2020, Jackson County’s population grew by nearly 10% and grew more diverse at the same time.

The county added 4,052 people during that period, according to data from the 2020 Census. A total of 46,231 Hoosiers reside in Jackson County, an increase of 9.6% from the 44,428 in 2010.

Out of Indiana’s 92 counties, Jackson County is the 31st most populated in the state.

Of the seven surrounding counties, Monroe, Brown, Scott and Bartholomew saw growth. The other three, Jennings and Lawrence and Washington counties, all experienced decreases.

One of the largest growths in diversity over the entire state was experienced by Jackson County.

A 159.4% increase was seen in the Hispanic population over the last decade, the second largest increase across all counties in Indiana. A total of 13.5% of Jackson County residents identified as Hispanic, up from 5.7% in 2010.

The diversity index is a measurement used by the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate the likelihood of two random people from one area coming from a different racial or ethnic background.

Census data from 2010 had Jackson County with a diversity index of 15.7%. For 2020’s data, that percentage grew to 31.8%. This ranks Jackson County as having the 19th highest diversity index in the state.

Jackson County’s white population fell from 94.5% in 2010 to 83.4% in 2020.

Almost every non-white demographic grew in Jackson County with Pacific Islanders being the only non-white group seeing a decrease.

People who identify as having two or more races consist of 7.1% of Jackson County’s population.

The number of Black residents is 1.1% of the total population, and the Asian population stands at 1%.

Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., said Jackson County saw the seventh-largest percentage of growth across all of Indiana’s counties.

The top five largest growing counties, Hamilton, Boone, Hendricks, Johnson and Hancock, respectively, are all counties surrounding Indianapolis. Coming in at No. 6 is Clark County, which is considered a metropolitan area right across the river from Louisville on the Indiana-Kentucky border.

With all of that in mind, Jackson County is the fastest growing rural county in Indiana.

One factor that Plump attributed to Jackson County’s growth is its close proximity to Indianapolis and Louisville. Because of this location, he said companies are incentivized to open businesses in Jackson County.

With more companies operating and expanding in the county, more jobs are available and encourage people to move here.

“You really don’t have growth without jobs, and I look at the industrial base that is located within Jackson County, and I think that has a tremendous effect on the growth that we have seen,” Plump said.

Dan Robison, president of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, said he was happy to learn about the increase in diversity in the county.

“I’m very excited to hear our diversity index has grown,” he said. “I think that shows health in our community in that we’re about integrating people into our broader community and we’re welcoming.”

A big reason to be proud of the community is the Jackson County residents themselves, he said.

“The seed of Hoosier hospitality lies in Jackson County. That’s because our people are friendly and welcoming. They have a grit that we especially saw last year with the pandemic,” Robison said.

Other factors Robison thought contributed to the growth of the county’s population are its location, strong public and private schools and the community being business-friendly, whether businesses are small or industrial.

He also said he felt the cost of living in Jackson County was an overlooked factor, as it is 80% lower than the national average.

Even though Indiana is a low income property tax state, Jackson County has lower property taxes than 70 of Indiana’s 92 counties, he said.

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