Indiana’s population growth in 2021 was the smallest annual increase since 2015, according to analysis released Thursday by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University.
The U.S. Census Bureau said the state added 20,341 residents last year, well below the state’s average over the last decade.
The IBRC said Indiana’s “natural increase,” or the number of births minus the number of deaths, was 690 residents last year, compared with the average natural increase of more than 21,000 per year between 2010 and 2019.
“The primary cause of this slower growth was a sharp increase in the number of deaths in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll,” said Matthew Kinghorn, senior demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center, in written comments. “At the same time, fertility rates in Indiana continued to decline, resulting in only 77,600 births last year—the state’s lowest annual tally on record dating back to the late 1960s.”
The analysis showed the state’s population gains were fueled mostly by a strong net in-migration of more than 19,000 residents.
The IBRC said 58 Indiana counties saw population gains in 2021, led by Boone County at 2.6%, followed by Hamilton and Hendricks counties at 2.2% and Hancock County at 2%.
In terms of numbers, Hamilton County led the way in 2021 by adding 7,782 residents, followed by Hendricks County with an increase of 3,827 residents.
Outside of the Indianapolis metro area, Parke County saw the highest gain at 1.6%, followed by Clarke County at 1.2%, and Perry, Warrick, and Putnam counties at 0.9% each.
Marion County saw the largest population decline last year, at 5,670 residents, or 0.6%.
“This drop stands in stark contrast to the trend over the previous decade when Marion County grew by an average of roughly 7,380 residents per year between 2010 and 2020,” Kinghorn said. “An estimated net out-migration of nearly 9,230 residents was the primary driver of this decline in the state’s most populous county.”
Additionally, the analysis shows 69 counties saw a natural decrease of population in 2021. Lake County saw the biggest decline with 710 more deaths than births. The decreases are due largely to the pandemic, but 41 counties saw a net in-migration to offset the losses resulting in an overall population gain.
You can find more of the analysis here.