Recession temporarily slows suburban migration

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

      2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

      3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

      4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

      5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.