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Numbers don't lie; county needs more young people
Saturday, April 05, 2014 5:00 AM
U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Indiana's population grew in 2013 after falling for six straight years - but they also show a tale of two types of counties.
A story in the Bloomington Herald-Times reports that in Indiana, it's a tale of urban and rural population trends moving in different directions.
Indiana's population grew at a rate of 0.51 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to Census Bureau estimates that were analyzed by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The state added 33,120 people to grow to a population of 6.57 million.
Jefferson County has seen a modest population increase from 2010 through 2013 - from 32,428 to 32,458.
The numbers are important because population growth is typically viewed as a sign of an improving economy.
"Here in Indiana, population change goes hand in hand with our economic fortunes," Matt Kinghorn, a demographer with the Indiana Business Research Center, told the Bloomington paper. "So when the economy is going well, we tend to draw more residents to the state. And when the economy is slumping, then our population figures slump as well."
A closer look shows some counties growing and others shrinking. A total of 46 Indiana counties grew, while 43 lost residents. Another three recorded populations that were virtually unchanged.
In many cases, urban and suburban counties tended to grow, according to Kinghorn. Rural counties tended to lose population.
Counties that have the most to worry about? Those that are losing young adults.
In Jefferson County, study after study warns that we need to do more to keep - and attract - young adults.
The numbers don't lie.
Creating a quality of life that makes Jefferson County an attractive destination for young people must be a priority.
As the parent of two young adults I can verify that currently there is no incentive for them to stay in Jefferson County. The job market for professionals is slim to none and there do not seem to be many prospects in sight. When they have spent four years in college earning a degree they are not going to come back here to work in a factory, a fast food restaurant or at a gas station. I grew up here in Madison and I have not worked in the county for 15 years because the opportunities elsewhere are so much greater. I saddens me greatly but until it is realized that we need more than tourism to grow our county economy it will continue.
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4/7/2014 11:15:00 AM
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