Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

March 16, 2013

Census updates show positive signs locally

We’re changing. That’s not really news, as change is constant. But the news is the U.S. Census Bureau has quantified some of the changes occurring in Goshen and Elkhart County.

The bureau updated its Goshen data in January and its Elkhart County data Monday. Both sets of data show growing populations.

Goshen’s population rose .7 percent from 2010 to 2011. There are now 31,934 people living in the city. The county’s population rose by 1 percent from 2010 to 2012. There are now 199,619 people who live in Elkhart County.

It’s good to see the city and county continue to add population. This trend means many more people want to live here than leave here. Growing populations are also great engines for economic activity. When there are more local people there is a greater need for local services and goods. We should also point out that this growth is slow and manageable, giving local communities time to adjust to the growth in an orderly, planned fashion.

Two statistics that also point to a positive future for the county are there were more children under 5 years old and more people under 18 years old in the county in 2012 than in 2010. That could indicate a growing birth rate and could also indicate that teenagers are sticking close to home instead of moving away.

There are also a several disturbing statistics in the summaries. Countywide, 19.8 percent of residents were below the poverty level during the 2007-2010 period. That number exceeds the 14.1 percent poverty rate statewide for the same period. The city of Goshen’s rate was 15.7 percent.

Also, the median household income in the county from 2007 to 2011 was $39,987 compared to $48,393 statewide.

These census statistics point out that Elkhart County and Goshen have a lot of positives going for them. There are a lot of young people ready to enter the work force, ensuring a good labor supply for local companies; a growing population will spur homes sales, retail sales and demands for services; and the growth is not overwhelming, like that of the 1990s, so there is a cushion to allow good planning for public services and housing.

Of course we want to see a poverty rate that decreases in coming years and incomes rise. We think both of those will occur as the economy continues to rebound. Overall, when we reviewed the census numbers we saw statistics that reinforced what our staffers have seen with their own eyes — thriving local communities that have weathered the economic downturn.

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