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Last updated: Thu. Mar. 27, 2014 - 12:20 pm EDT

Population on uptick in city, county

But overall growth rate still behind years past

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FORT WAYNE — After slow post-recession growth and a particularly sluggish 2012, Indiana’s population appears to be on the rise, according to census figures.

While the state’s population has increased over the years, the annual growth rate had declined since 2007 to a low of 0.33 percent in 2012, according to intercensal estimates. That’s the lowest rate since the mid-1980s, said Matt Kinghorn, a Bloomington economic analyst for the Indiana Business Research Center.

Though just a blip, last year it climbed to 0.5 percent. Not much, but perhaps a sign that the economy has turned a corner.

“I think maybe the headline is that finally, population growth is beginning to tick upward.” Kinghorn said. “We’re still growing slower than we were last decade, but at least now we’re starting to see the population increase on the rise. … Up until now, population growth has been kind of the last domino to fall and among the indicators of an economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, Allen County, which has continued to add population during and after the Great Recession, has outpaced the state’s growth rate over the years.

It posted a 0.7 percent rate in 2013, according to census figures. That’s greater than the county’s average annual growth between 2000 and 2010, Kinghorn noted.

Population estimates released today for last year show that oil- and gas-rich areas in and near the Great Plains contained many of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. Areas along and near the Gulf Coast were also home to several high-growth communities.

“As the first results from the 2012 Economic Census revealed (Wednesday), mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industries were the most rapidly growing part of our nation’s economy over the last several years,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said in a statement. “A major reason was the energy boom on the Plains, which attracted job seekers from around the country.”

The population estimates also give a clue as to where the 87,000 additional Hoosiers came from since 2010 head count. While Indiana saw an influx of 30,000 international migrants during the period, they were countered by the departure of about 26,000 residents. So, the new Hoosiers came mostly from more births than deaths.

That’s also true for northeast Indiana counties, which have held their own since 2010, as counties surrounding Indianapolis continued to steal the limelight as the fastest-growing in the state. Hamilton and Boone counties north of Indianapolis grew at a rate of 3 percent between 2012 and 2013, the largest in the state.

The estimated 113,953 people that Hamilton County gained between 2000 and 2013 is larger than the populations of 79 Hoosier counties.

Of nine northeast Indiana counties, Huntington County was the only one to lose population.

The county had a 1 percent drop since 2010 and has been losing population since at least 2000, according to census numbers.

Even as some areas of the state are seeing their populations rise, 45 counties – nearly half of all Indiana counties – lost people between 2012 and 2013.

“Largely, we’re seeing a handful of metropolitan areas attracting a lot of young adults and young families,” Kinghorn said, “and those are really the engines of population growth in Indiana.”

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