Indiana's population is projected to grow by 1 million people by 2050, to nearly 7.5 million people in total, but most of the growth will occur in the Indianapolis area, especially in the northern suburbs.
The Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University says about one in every three Indiana residents will live in the Indianapolis area by 2050, up from 27 percent in 2010.
Matt Kinghorn, state demographer for the research center, told The Herald-Times that area will claim as much as two-thirds of the state's growth over the next 40 years.
Hamilton County will continue to be the state’s fastest-growing county, doubling in size to 548,000 residents by 2050, and passing Lake and Allen counties to become the state’s second-largest county behind Marion County, the report says.
Over the same period, Hendricks County’s population will rise to 268,000 residents—an 84 percent increase. Boone, Hancock and Johnson counties will round out the state’s five fastest-growing communities.
Aging baby boomers will increase seniors' share of the state population to 20 percent by 2050 compared to 13 percent in 2010. Kinghorn said that could significantly impact such areas such as appropriate housing, health care delivery and transportation needs.
Outside central Indiana, other fast-growing areas of the state will include Clark and Harrison counties in the Louisville metro area, which will grow by 35 percent and 22 percent, respectively, the center projects. Warrick County in the Evansville metro area, along with Porter County in northwest Indiana and Elkhart County in north central Indiana, each should grow by 25 percent.
Meanwhile, large swaths of mid-sized and rural communities in north, east and west-central Indiana are projected to lose population over the next 40 years. Many counties in southwest Indiana are also likely to lose people. Forty-nine of Indiana's 92 counties are forecast to lose population.
Baby boomers becoming seniors will add 600,000 people to the state's over-65 demographic, the center projects.
Kinghorn said that could mean Indiana will feel a significant impact in areas such as appropriate housing, health care delivery and transportation needs.
Other age groups will decline in their proportion of the state's population pie but their numbers still will grow. Both Indiana's child population (age 0 to 14) and its younger adult age group (25 to 44) will increase by 75,000 by 2030, and those around college age will increase by 25,000. Indiana's older working-age population (45 to 64) will decline by roughly 100,000 over the same period as baby boomers retire.
"One important effect of this graying of the population will be the slowing of Indiana's population growth rate in the coming decades," Kinghorn said. "While migration plays an important role in population change, natural increase typically accounts for the majority of Indiana's growth.
However, Indiana isn't aging as rapidly as some other Midwestern states and that could prove beneficial in certain sectors of the job market.
"Actually we're a comparatively young state," Kinghorn said. "In 2010 our median age was 37 while the nation was at 37.2. And we're about two years younger than neighbors Michigan and Ohio, which is rather significant."