When new population data concerning Indiana become available, the cry goes out in the Statehouse, “Better call B&P!”
Bluff & Puff is the public relations department for the State. Their latest triumph was to note that Indiana’s population growth rate from 2010 to 2020 was greater than that of any of our four neighboring states. B&P would have us think this superiority over our neighbors is something new, something worth a trophy. Yet, for the past three decades (1990 to 2020), Indiana’s growth rate has exceeded that of our four neighboring states.
B&P didn’t say Indiana’s 4.7 percent increase in population was well below the nation’s 7.4 percent growth rate. In addition, they were silent about the 2019 data which foreshadows the 2020 results to be released later this year.
Those 2019 numbers show 55 of our 92 counties losing population since 2010. Would we want Hoosiers to know 99.9 percent of our 2010-2019 population growth was in the 65+ age group a 71.8 percent gain nationally.
Every Indiana county saw an increase in the population 65 and older. Can you say, “Baby boom”?
Indiana gains in the age groups, 18 to 44 totaled 60,180. However, the ages 0 to 17 and 45 to 64 lost 59,861 persons, for a net statewide gain of only 319. That’s only our children and most experienced labor force.
The Census Bureau displays age data in six groups.
Only six of Indiana’s 92 counties saw each of those age groups grow. Half of those six were in the Indianapolis metro area (Hamilton, Johnson and Boone); the other three were Tippecanoe, Clark and Bartholomew.
For 40 counties, that gain in the 65 and older group was the only population growth they enjoyed. In five counties (Steuben, Shelby, Montgomery, Gibson and Carroll), however, despite losses in all other age groups, the 65+ gains were sufficient to yield a net increase in population.
Thus, for 35 counties, population losses overwhelmed the gains in the 65+ group. Lake County had the largest loss of population: a 16,132 gain of the 65+ population was not sufficient to match their 26,586 loss in other age groups. The net result was a loss of 10,454 persons, equal to a 9.4 percent population decline for the period 2010 to 2019.
If our future doesn’t count for much, this isn’t a bad report. Old folks don’t demand much from our education system. They keep our health care professionals busy. They don’t cause much congestion during the commuting hours. Few of them appear in police and fire reports.
Bluff and Puff, operating from the Statehouse, will keep us smiling, no matter what the future holds.
Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his views and those of John Guy on Who gets what? wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com.