INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana's four largest cities are in the midst of big population shifts, with the state capital leading the way as development in downtown Indianapolis attracts an influx of new residents, a report that Indiana University demographers released Thursday shows.
Researchers with the Bloomington-based Indiana Business Research Center found that Indianapolis and Fort Wayne saw average annual population increases from 2010 to 2013 that were significantly larger than they had witnessed the previous decade, while Evansville and South Bend stemmed an exodus of residents.
The findings came from researchers' analysis of new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
IU demographer Matthew Kinghorn said Indianapolis added an average of about 7,200 residents per year from 2010 to 2013, when its population reached nearly 843,400 and made it the nation's 12th largest city behind Austin, Texas.
Indianapolis' average annual growth from 2010-2013 was twice its 2000-2010 pace, said Kinghorn, who attributes the surge in part to the growing attractiveness of downtown Indianapolis as a place for young professionals and others to live.
"Indianapolis is just on a bit of a roll right now," he said.
Indianapolis Downtown Inc. spokesman Bob Schultz said a building boom has boosted the city's residential units by 89 percent in the last five years and another 3,500 units will open by 2017.
The development group researched who's moving into downtown and found 38 percent are coming to the city from outside of Indiana and most are millennials - the children of baby boomers who came of age in the new millennium - and empty nesters. Another 26 percent were moving to downtown from counties outside of Marion County.
Schultz said young professionals who work at IUPUI just west of downtown or in the city's growing life sciences industry are drawn downtown because of the shopping, restaurants, bars and mass transit options. Many don't have cars, he said.
"They want to live in an urban core, where the action is, and they want to be close to where they work," he said.
Indiana's second-largest city, Fort Wayne, had essentially experienced flat population growth from 2000 to 2010, but the IU report found its population grew at an average annual pace of nearly 900 residents from 2010 to 2013, when it had about 256,500 residents.
The northeastern Indiana city's economy is on the upswing, spurring downtown projects, said Mary Tyndall, spokeswoman for Fort Wayne's community development office.
And big local employer Ash Brokerage recently announced it will build its new headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne as part of a larger $98 million development set to open in 2016 with condos and parking garages, Tyndall said.
"Our downtown is really booming. There's a lot of momentum for Fort Wayne and certainly the economy has picked back up over the last three, four years," she said.
Evansville, which had a 2013 population of 120,310 residents, grew by about 80 residents per year in 2010-2013, compared to an average annual decline of 420 residents from 2000 to 2010.
South Bend continued losing population during 2010-2013 at a pace of nearly 45 people a year, but that's a big improvement from the nearly 700 residents lost annually from 2000 to 2010, the IU report found.
IBRC Census report: http://www.stats.indiana.edu/topic/population.asp