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IU Kelley School: Indiana’s largest cities continue to see strong population growth

Despite rise in residents, Indianapolis drops one spot and is 14th most populous city in the nation

  • May 21, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Three of Indiana’s largest cities -- Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend -- again saw comparatively strong population gains in 2014, while suburban communities in Central Indiana continued to be the state’s pacesetters in terms of the rate of growth, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Indianapolis had the state’s largest numeric gain with 5,479 new residents in 2014. This number was below the nearly 9,000 residents added in 2013 but remains well above the average annual increase of roughly 3,800 a year from 2000 to 2010. Looking over the past four years, Indianapolis has grown by an average of 6,854 residents per year.

Despite this relatively strong growth, Indianapolis was passed by Jacksonville, Fla., and San Francisco on the list of the nation’s largest cities in 2014. Indianapolis now ranks as the 14th most populous city in the U.S. with 858,325 residents.

Fort Wayne remains Indiana’s second-largest city with a population of 258,522 in 2014. After adding nearly 2,000 new residents in 2013, this city grew by another 1,658 people last year. To put these numbers in perspective, Fort Wayne’s next-largest annual population gain since 2000 was 790 residents in 2011. Furthermore, Fort Wayne experienced essentially flat growth from 2000 and 2010.

Evansville (120,346 residents in 2014) and South Bend (101,190) are the only other cities in Indiana with a population above 100,000. After growing by an average of 100 residents a year from 2010 to 2013, Evansville had a slight decline (-30) last year. Meanwhile, South Bend’s population grew by 268 in 2014 -- its largest one-year growth in more than 20 years. South Bend’s population declined by roughly 700 residents a year last decade.  

The rest of Indiana’s 10 largest cities or towns are Carmel (86,682), Fishers (86,325), Bloomington (83,322), Hammond (78,384), Gary (77,909) and Lafayette (70,654). Carmel, Fishers and Bloomington each added residents in 2014, while Hammond, Gary and Lafayette saw declines.

Many suburban areas still growing fast

Among Indiana’s 20 largest cities and towns, 13 of them posted a population increase in 2014. Of this group, the two fastest-growing communities were Hamilton County’s Fishers (3.0 percent growth) and Noblesville (1.8 percent). Greenwood (1.6 percent), Jeffersonville (1.3 percent) and Carmel (0.9 percent) complete the top five fastest-growing communities among the state’s larger communities.

Looking at all Indiana cities and towns with a population of at least 2,000, Whitestown in Boone County, which grew at a 25.4 percent rate in 2014, was Indiana’s fastest-growing locale for the fourth consecutive year. Whitestown registered a population of only 5,258 residents in 2014, yet its addition of 1,065 residents last year ranked as the seventh-largest numeric gain among all Indiana cities and towns.

Avon in Hendricks County (7.8 percent growth) was the second fastest-growing area in 2014, followed by Hancock County’s McCordsville (5.7 percent), Hamilton County’s Westfield (5.7 percent), Winfield in Lake County (3.9 percent) and West Lafayette (3.7 percent).      

Sharp differences in Lake County

According to these estimates, communities in Lake County account for four of the seven-largest numeric population declines in the state. Hammond and Gary both lost roughly 600 residents in 2014 according to the estimates, while East Chicago declined by 228. These losses represented a 0.8 percent decline for each of these cities in 2014. Hobart had the seventh-greatest decline with a loss of 168 residents. Cities outside Lake County that also had large losses in 2014 include Connersville (-208), Marion (-200) and Richmond (-172).    

While many communities in the northern part of Lake County are losing population, some cities and towns farther south are adding residents. In numeric terms, St. John had the largest gain in 2014 with 465 new residents, followed by Crown Point (238), Winfield (197), Cedar Lake (146) and Merrillville (134). In all, six of the county’s 19 cities and towns added population in 2014.      

Town and country         

Most Hoosiers live in cities or towns. Of Indiana’s nearly 6.6 million residents in 2014, 66.3 percent live in incorporated places. This share is up slightly from the 65.5 percent mark recorded in the 2010 census. Indiana’s cities and towns as a group accounted for 82.5 percent of the state’s total population growth in 2014.   

For more information about these estimates, visit the Population topic page at STATS Indiana.

The IBRC is part of a national network of State Data Centers and acts as the official state representative to the Census Bureau on matters relating to the census and population estimates. It receives support from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for this work, including for the websites Hoosiers by the Numbers and the award-winning STATS Indiana.

Note: The Census Bureau adjusts its population estimates for sub-county areas each year to account for city and town boundary changes. Therefore, boundary changes do not contribute to any population changes reported in this release.

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Indianapolis had the highest numeric population gain in 2014

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