Recession temporarily slows suburban migration

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Suburban towns such as Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville and Greenwood have led Indiana’s population growth for the last decade. But according to analysis from the Indiana Business Research Center, the recession has shifted migration trends toward Indiana’s largest cities.

Indianapolis saw greater-than-average population changes last year. The city added 6,854 residents—three times its average annual growth from 2000 to 2008. On the other hand, Fishers' population grew by just 2,399 residents, well below its average annual 3,701 gain. Noblesville and Greenwood's growth also slowed.

“These shifting trends reflect the slowdown in migration seen in Indiana and much of the nation due to the recession,” wrote Matt Kinghorn, an economic analyst with the center—part of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. “Factors such as the housing market slump and employment insecurity result in fewer people moving from central cities to suburban areas. The tough employment climate means that fewer people are relocating for new jobs. As a result, many of Indiana’s larger cities have held on to more of their residents over this period.”

Population growth is, broadly, an equation that starts with births, then factors in deaths and migration, Kinghorn said in a telephone interview. Indianapolis is the nation’s 14th-largest city, ranking just behind Jacksonville, Fla. and ahead of Austin, Texas. Indianapolis has had a 3.3-percent population growth since 2000, thanks mostly to births, but has been a net migration loser. The recession’s twin drags on employment and housing have slowed the trend.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the IBRC found that Fishers nearly doubled its population from 2000 to 2009, with a gain of 32,884 residents, or 86.2 percent. Over the same time period, Noblesville’s population increased 44.8 percent, Greenwood’s grew 32.5 percent and Carmel’s went up 30.5 percent. During the decade, all nine Hoosier cities or towns with the largest population gains were located in Indianapolis' suburbs: in Hamilton, Hendricks and Johnson counties. But suburban growth has slowed as the recession has taken hold.

In the next few years, as the recession abates and the housing and construction industries stabilize, Kinghorn said he expects to see suburban growth trends to normalize.

Anderson was among the state's largest cities with population losses, recording a drop of 4.2 percent since 2000.


  • Community
    Yes JBBooks, I did have some trade offs, but the benefits for me far out weighed the negatives that I experienced living in the burbs. I live within walking distance of where I work downtown, have great neighbors and value the diversity in my neighborhood and older genuine architecture that wasn't as disposable as most new things that are now built. I don't have children and don't plan on it so the schools are a non-issue for me and the infastructure is improving every day. The crime? You can get shot in the face in Brownsburg as easily as you could downtown, that argument is tired. Most violant crime is committed by someone that knows you, not a complete stranger.
    Luckily I don't think the Indianapolis region is as burbs vs. urban as some cities. The attitude of the Detroit metro area being a prime example of how that attitude can turn toxic and lead to further decline.
  • Reality...
    Hmmm.. property taxes are all just about the same now (all homeowners are now capped at 1%), the crime rate in my Marion Co. neighborhood is lower than Carmel as a whole, my Washington Twp schools do pretty well on most state and national rankings, and the rebuilding of infrastructure is finally being addressed (while many suburban areas are still building theirs for the first time). On top of that, I have the admittedly smug satisfaction of knowing I didn't just abandon an area because I didn't want to "deal with it." Will you simply move when your sewers become old, leaving it to others?

    Many wonderful people live in the suburbs and many wonderful people live in Marion County. It is beyond ignorant to lump everyone and every area under one label. Marion County is the equivalent of eight or nine cities/towns in terms of population and demographics. Some areas are very troubled, while others far exceed the quality of life found in the "best" suburbs.
  • Great Trade!
    So you traded your commute for higher taxes, higher crime, crumbling infrastructure, pathetic schools.... Way to Go!
    • What does McKibben say?
      I would love to hear what the demographer Jerry McKibben (e.g. Dr. Jerome McKibben) has to say on where the folks "leave" Indianapolis are going. (That guy is a genius.)
    • Maybe, Maybe Not
      I for one moved from the suburbs into Marion County because I was tired of spending an hour in the car twice a day. Once cheap fuel ceases to exist, I think we'll start seeing more people move into Marion County.

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