By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – Indiana may have had one of its smallest population increases in 35 years last year, but data from the Indiana Business Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau show the state still outperformed its neighbors.
The Hoosier State gained 19,505 people. According to the research and analytical group within Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, that was affected largely by the state’s meager natural growth.
IBRC Senior Demographer Matt Kinghorn said the state had just 1,024 more births than deaths in 2022.
“For context, Indiana had an average natural increase of roughly 21,150 residents per year between 2010 and 2019,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic was still a major driver for the low natural figures, as Kinghorn said the state’s deaths in total “remained exceptionally high” last year.
It could have been worse, as the IBRC noted 24 states reported deaths outpacing births. What helped Indiana offset its small natural population increase was the fact the state attracted more than 20,700 new residents last year.
The natural population growth should rebound, Kinghorn said. The Census Bureau’s 2022 estimate covers from July 2021 to June 2022, and federal health data shows the state averaged about 1,450 COVID deaths per month from September 2021 to February 2022.
However, after February, the state’s monthly COVID death rate plummeted by more than 80%, improving the state’s chances of stronger natural population gains for the next estimate.
According to Census Bureau data, Indiana’s population grew by 0.3% from 2021 to 2022. That was the 24th-highest rate in the country and slightly behind the national average of 0.4%.
It also was better than each of the surrounding states. Kentucky had gains of just 5,721, or 0.1%. Michigan had a slight loss of 3,391 residents, and Ohio’s net loss of 8,284 people equated to a 0.1% population decline.
Illinois had the second-worst decline, rate-wise, in the country, as its 0.8% decline meant the state had 104,437 fewer residents.
Florida’s 1.9% increase was tops in the U.S., while New York’s 0.9% decrease was the worst of the states and the District of Columbia.
Indiana’s growth also was the highest of any Midwestern state, according to the Census data.
The IBRC also studied the state’s metropolitan areas, which had mixed results. Seven of the 12 metros saw population declines last year.
However, the data found the Interstate 65 corridor saw population increases. Columbus saw its population grow by 1%. Indianapolis saw a .6% increase, and Lafayette-West Lafayette reported a .5% gain.
Indianapolis’ gains bucked a regional trend of Midwestern metros shedding population. Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago all saw at least 0.5% declines, and only Columbus, Ohio’s 0.7% increase outperformed the Indiana capital.