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Bigger metros, shrinking rural areas: Release of census data sets stage for Indiana’s redistricting

Thursday’s release of the 2020 census data to be used for congressional and legislative redistricting showed Indiana following national trends of the greatest growth in metropolitan areas and lesser growth or population loss in more rural areas.

“The country’s population is increasingly metropolitan,’’ Mark Perry, senior demographer in the U.S. Census Bureau, said in the afternoon news conference in which the data was released. Among the more notable findings nationally: the nation’s non-Hispanic White population dropped during the past decade for the first time in census history.

According to the data, the state’s largest metro areas in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, northwest Indiana, South Bend and Evansville grew in population, though by percentages lower than the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas and in some like South Bend and Evansville, less than 1%.

The Indianapolis metro area was the state’s fastest-growing, and was led by growth in three suburban counties to its north and west – Hamilton, the state’s fastest growing county at 26.5%; Boone at 25% and Hendricks at 20.2. The metro area overall grew by 11.8 percent.

The rest of the state saw smaller growth, and wide swaths of outlying counties saw population loss, such as tiny Switzerland County in southeastern Indiana losing 8.3%, Parke County 6.8% and Randolph County 6.4% .

The data released Thursday was in “legacy format,’’ meaning that for redistricting, it must be downloaded and converted for use in mapping software.

 The data will be released in a more readily usable form by Sept. 30, but Indiana’s legislative leaders say the legacy format will suffice, allowing new congressional and legislative maps to be proposed in the Indiana General Assembly by mid- to late September. – The Indiana Citizen