Lake, LaPorte counties lost population along with greater Chicago metro

The Chicago skyline is shown at sunset in 2012. The Chicago metro area lost more residents than any other in the nation in 2016.

Nam Y. Huh

Lake and LaPorte Counties lost more than 2,500 residents combined last year, according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The greater Chicago metro area, which includes southeast Wisconsin and Northwest Indiana, was the only metro area among the 10 largest in the country that did not grow last year, the Census estimate found. Cook County, home of the city of Chicago, lost 21,324 residents in 2016. 

Lake County lost an estimated 1,803 residents in 2016, the most of any county in the state and a decline of 0.3 percent as compared to 2015. Its population has fallen by 10,124 residents since 2010, a 2 percent drop, but it's still the second most populous county in Indiana with an estimated 485,846 people. LaPorte County's population fell to 110,015 last year, down from 110,762 the previous year.

Porter County's population increased by about 600 residents to 167,791 last year. Porter County's population has grown by about 2 percent, or 3,233 residents, during the last six years.

Statewide, Indiana gained 20,285 residents in 2016, an uptick of 0.3 percent, according to the Census estimates. 

The causes of Indiana’s sluggish growth has been both a strong decline in the natural increase of the population, which is a measure of the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths, and a significant slowdown in migration, said Matt Kinghorn, demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center.

“Driven partially by lower birth rates since the Great Recession, Indiana’s natural increase in recent years has been about 30 percent lower than it was from 2000 to 2010," Kinghorn said. "The state has also seen a net out-migration of residents in each of the last two years.”

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.