The population of 55 of Indiana’s 92 counties grew from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022, but Jackson County wasn’t one of them, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Data recently released by the bureau show Jackson County’s population declined by 161 people during that period. On July 1, 2020, there were 46,461 people living in the county compared to 46,300 on July 1, 2022.
An analysis by the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business indicates the state had the smallest annual population increase in nearly a decade.
Indiana added 19,505 residents in 2022 to reach a total population of 6.83 million, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the smallest annual increase since 2015 and was only the second time in 35 years that the state added fewer than 20,000 residents in a year.
For the second consecutive year, a low rate of natural population increase was the primary driver of Indiana’s slow growth.
“Due largely to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths in Indiana remained exceptionally high in 2022,” said Matt Kinghorn, senior demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center. “Add in another year with relatively low fertility rates, and there were only 1,024 more births than deaths in the state last year. For context, Indiana had an average natural increase of roughly 21,150 residents per year between 2010 and 2019.”
Meanwhile, 24 states had a natural decrease in 2022, meaning deaths outnumbered births.
Kinghorn said it is important to keep in mind that 2022 population estimates cover the period from July 2021 to June 2022. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show Indiana averaged roughly 1,450 deaths involving COVID-19 per month between September 2021 and February 2022. For the rest of 2022, however, the state averaged approximately 250 monthly COVID-related deaths.
This shift suggests Indiana will have an improved rate of natural increase for calendar year 2022.
With the state’s natural increase so low, population gains were fueled almost entirely by a strong net in-migration of more than 20,720 residents in 2022.
Many of the fastest-growing counties are suburban communities in the Indianapolis metro area. Hamilton County set the pace for growth with a 2.1% population gain in 2022, while Hendricks (1.7%), Boone (1.6%) and Hancock (1.5%) ranked among the top six counties.
The fastest-growing counties outside that area were in southeast Indiana. Ohio County posted the state’s second-fastest growth rate at 2.0%, while its rural neighbor, Switzerland County, placed fourth with a 1.6% increase.
For the second straight year, Marion County had the state’s largest population decline with a loss of roughly 2,180 residents — a 0.2% slide. Marion County’s population now sits at nearly 969,500 residents, which ranks as the 54th most populous county in the United States.
LaPorte County had the state’s second-largest decline at 811 residents, followed by Vanderburgh (-523 residents), Monroe (-390) and Miami (-358) counties.
In all, 69 Indiana counties — or 75% of all counties in the state — had a natural population decrease in 2022. In absolute numbers, Lake County fared worst in this measure with 644 more deaths than births last year. Delaware, Madison, Howard, LaPorte and Grant counties also had a natural decrease of 300 residents or greater in 2022.
Of the 69 counties with a natural decrease, 37 had a net in-migration that was strong enough to overcome these losses and result in an overall population gain.
“Population growth in Indiana continues to be driven largely by a handful of metropolitan areas,” Kinghorn said. “Foremost among these is the 11-county Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metro area, which added 13,115 residents last year, accounting for 67% of Indiana’s net growth in 2022. The Indy metro area is home to more than 2.14 million people, which represents 31% of the state’s population and ranks as the nation’s 33rd-largest metro area (out of 380 metros).”
Compared to large metro-area peers in neighboring states, the Indy area’s growth rate of 0.6% trailed only Columbus, Ohio (0.7%). Meanwhile, growth rates in the Cincinnati (0.2%), Louisville (0.0%), Detroit (-0.5%), Cleveland (-0.5%) and Chicago (-0.8%) areas lagged well behind.
The Columbus area led Indiana’s metros with a growth rate of 1% to reach a total population of 83,540 residents. Other Indiana metro areas to show relatively strong growth include Fort Wayne (0.6%) and Lafayette-West Lafayette (0.5%).
At the other end of the spectrum, seven of 12 metro areas lost population in 2022 with Michigan City-LaPorte, Bloomington and Terre Haute showing the largest rates of decline.