When the 2020 census data was released on August 12, 2021, the major national trends showed continued growth in racial diversity, population shifts from rural to urban and suburban areas, and faster growth in the South and West, compared to the rest of the country.
Indiana, as a state, faired better than our neighbors, outpacing Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin in population growth. Though no state in the Midwest, except for Minnesota (7.6% growth), saw their populations grow more than the US growth of 7.4%, Indiana does stand out for the better position than all the state’s immediate competitors for residents, workers, voters and taxpayers.
Indiana was not immune, however, from the national trend towards increased concentration of residents in urban and suburban regions. Forty-nine (49) of Indiana’s 92 counties lost population. Marion County (Indianapolis) and the surrounding counties accounted for 73.8% of the state’s growth, and Marion and Hamilton (Indiana’s fastest growing county) alone were 48.6% of the state’s growth.
What do these trends mean for Indiana manufacturing? Population trends certainly have an impact on the available workforce, and Hoosier manufacturers need workers.
Indiana is somewhat unique in that manufacturing is found throughout the state, but there are areas of concentration. Thankfully, the census data shows that in Indiana’s counties with the largest amount of manufacturing workers, population growth is (with a few exceptions) at or better than the rate of statewide growth.
The twelve counties here represent over half of the manufacturing workforce in Indiana. And in most of these larger manufacturing counties, there is not an erosion in the overall size of the population.
Workforce challenges are far more complex than just the function of demographic changes. And many counties in Indiana do truly have a population problem that will have longer term consequences for all the employers in those areas. But at least for those counties with the most manufacturing workers the challenge remains creating and connecting workers to manufacturers, not simply a lack of potential workers.