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12/31/2018 10:32:00 AM
OPINION: Priorities for 2019

Morton J. Marcus is an economist formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.  His column appears in Indiana newspapers, and his views can be followed on a podcast: https://mortonjohn.libsyn.com.

As December came to a close, the U.S. Bureau of the Census released 2018 population estimates for the states. A few of my professional colleagues saw the scant newspaper coverage and, good Hoosiers that they are, rejoiced that we out-performed Illinois.

I’ve never felt glee when my neighbor is suffering, but then my credentials as a Hoosier have been questioned.

Much of the media coverage emphasized Indiana’s net domestic in-migration of 3,555 (more people moving into Indiana from other states than leaving Indiana for other states) in the twelve months from July 2017 to July 2018. This contrasted with Illinois’ net domestic out-migration of 114,200.

Now all sorts of people in Northwest Indiana will tell you about the exodus from Illinois into the Hoosier state. But even if all 3,555 of Indiana’s net in-migrants came out of Illinois and settled in Lake and Porter counties, that’s only three percent of Illinois’ net out-migrants. Hardly what I’d call anything comparable to the exodus from Egypt.

In addition, that 3,555 net domestic in-migration to Indiana in 2017-18 did little to offset the 58,600 net domestic out-migration from Indiana in earlier years of this decade. We remain one of the 28 states with net domestic out-migration from 2010 to 2018 as Americans chose where they wanted to live in the U.S.  

On balance, Indiana’s population grew by 207,800 persons between 2010 and 2018. Eighty-nine percent of that growth came from natural increase (births in excess of deaths). Our 3.2 percent increase contrasted with the nation’s six percent gain, nearly twice as fast as Indiana.

Does any of this matter? Should our legislators, county commissioners, and mayors rethink their priorities for 2019?

The Census of 2020 is coming. Is every city, county and the state doing what’s necessary to get a complete count of our population in 2020? Do we have local and state complete count committees? Are they doing their jobs? Are they prepared for high level functioning or are they starved for funding, staff and materials?

With 29 states growing at faster rates than Indiana, we might be in danger of seeing our Congressional seats reduced again, this time from nine to eight. Certainly, Texas, Florida, and California will have strong claims for additional Congressional seats since those three states alone have captured 45 percent of the nation’s growth in population.

As other states fund their efforts, are we doing enough?

And within Indiana, population shifts could make reappointment of our Congressional, State Senate and State House seats more contentious than ever. Mention redistricting to those who hang around the Statehouse and they will wink and nod their heads knowingly. They tell us redrawing an unbiased electoral map after the Census has less chance than the proverbial snowball on the streets of Evansville in July.

Is it possible our current legislators could forego partisan gain and let Indiana have responsible, independent redistricting?

Related Stories:
• Indiana's population grew by more than 31,000 people in 2018
• State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, to introduce redistricting reform bill
• COMMENTARY: The Legislature: It's time to waste time debating time

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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