ELKHART — U.S. Census figures released this week indicate the estimated population of Elkhart County increased slightly from 204,310 in 2017 to 205,560 in 2018, a gain of 0.6 percent.
That compares to a statewide gain estimated at 6,660,082 in 2017 and 6,691,878 in 2018 or a 0.5 percent increase.
The figures indicate the county is growing, though it comes as no surprise to local officials who cite a robust jobs market and efforts to improve the local quality of life as possible factors.
“I’m surprised the numbers aren’t higher,’’ Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder said. “We’ve had a strong economy and we’re working on quality of place (issues) so the increase is a positive.’’
Elkhart Chamber of Commerce CEO Levon Johnson said recent state studies show Elkhart is one of the counties in Indiana where population growth has been expected so the figure would appear to support that.
“Factors include the job market and continued investments in quality of life, such as the parks systems and River District and not just in Elkhart,” Johnson said. “Other communities throughout the county are investing (in people and places).”’
He added that as more housing options become available and the local economy is diversified, people are able to move to the county and stay and live here.
The census data indicates Elkhart is the sixth largest county in terms of population in the state behind St. Joseph, Allen, Hamilton, Lake and Marion counties.
Nationwide, counties with the largest growth in population are all located in the South and West, with counties in Texas taking four out of theTop 10 spots, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, agency officials said in a release.
By metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, had the largest numeric growth with a gain of 131,767 (1.8 percent) in 2018, followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona, with an increase of 96,268 (2.0 percent), according to the agency.