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Indiana growing less than half as fast as during the 1990s

The Indiana Statehouse is pictured above at night. Indiana added an estimated 20,285 residents last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Indiana's population grew by an estimated 20,285 residents in 2015, continuing a longstanding trend of slow growth, according to newly released U.S. Census data.

Indiana's population grew by 0.3 percent year-over-year this year, while neighboring Illinois's population fell by an estimated 37,508 residents as compared to 2015, a decline of 0.3 percent.

Illinois currently has an estimated 12.8 million residents, while Indiana is home to 6.6 million people, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimate.

The Hoosier state has been adding nearly half as many new residents as it did during the prosperous 1990s, said Indiana University Professor Matt Kinghorn, the demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center.

Indiana's population increased by an average of 53,600 people a year during the 1990s, and 40,300 a year during the first decade of the new millennium, Kinghorn said. So far this decade, the state has only gained about 23,750 more residents a year.

"It's another year of slow growth for Indiana," he said. "It's been happening since the start of the Great Recession."

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Indiana hasn't been adding jobs fast enough after the Great Recession to draw in more residents from out of state, and the birth rate has slowed as economic anxiety has caused people to put off starting families, Kinghorn said. 

Localized 2016 data hasn't been released yet, but much of Indiana's population growth in recent years has been concentrated in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Lake County has lost population every year so far this decade, while Porter County has gained about 3,000 more residents since the 2010 Census. 

"Lake County was getting a lot of migrants from Cook County, but that has slowed since the Great Recession," Kinghorn said. "A lot of the suburban flow has slowed."

Illinois was one of six states nationally to lose population, an unusually high number of states to obtain that dubious distinction, Kinghorn said.

"It has been eight or nine years since the Great Recession, and we've continued to see slow population growth despite low unemployment and job growth," he said. "That's surprising."

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Business Reporter

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.