SOUTH BEND -- The city’s population in July grew slightly from the prior year, marking the fifth consecutive year of gains, according to annual population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Continuing a consistent pattern, the city’s population grew from 102,022 on July 1, 2016, to 102,245 on July 1, 2017, an increase of 223 residents, or about 0.22 percent. Over the past five years, the city added 1,261 residents, for an average annual increase of about 252 people, according to the estimates.
Compared to some other Indiana cities, South Bend’s yearly population gains have been modest, amounting to a combined 1 percent increase from 2012 to 2017. Fort Wayne, the nearest comparably sized Indiana city, tripled South Bend’s growth rate, its population increasing from 257,416 in 2012 to 265,904 in 2017, or 3 percent.
Indianapolis’ population also grew by 3 percent from 2012 to 2017, while Mishawaka’s population grew 2 percent.
Carmel’s population jumped 10 percent, while Elkhart’s was up 1 percent.
But compared to a decade earlier, South Bend completely reversed its course. From 2002 to 2007, the city’s population declined each year, falling from 106,279 in 2002 to 102,911 in 2007. That was a 3.2 percent drop over that five-year span, averaging 674 residents per year.
“You have to remember that it was not that long ago when we were still losing population,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “In the ’70s and ’80s we lost a quarter of our population, so it’s very encouraging to be growing at all.”