Population in Greater Madison Region counties rebounds in 2017

The Applied Population Lab (APL) at UW-Madison reported in April that, while Dane County continues to lead population growth in the state, many other counties have recently rebounded from earlier declines and slow growth. The Regional Planning Commission looked at the data for the counties surrounding Dane County to see if this rebound applied to them as well.

Between 2010 and 2017 Dane County grew by an estimated 48,341 people. That increase constituted 45% of the state’s population growth of 108,195. As previously reported, Dane County’s growth during this period already surpassed the state of Wisconsin’s population projection for the county during 2010 to 2020 decade, of 42,547.

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Source: UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory, “April Notes from APL,” reporting data from U.S. Census Bureau county population estimates.

The APL also reported that suburban, manufacturing and recreation/retirement counties have rebounded, and are gaining in-migrants. Compared to the 2010 to 2016 period, where most counties lost population or showed slow gains, year from 2016 to 2017 showed much stronger increases.

The Regional Planning Commission looked at the data for the counties surrounding Dane County to see if this rebound applied to them as well. The chart below shows that Dodge, Green and Iowa counties rebounded from average annual population declines during 2010 to 2016, to experience population increases.

pop_change_adjacent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, county population estimates (PEP_2017_PEPTCOMP_with_ann)

The other counties – Columbia, Rock, Sauk and Jefferson – show significant increases in annual population gains from the 2010-2016 to 2016-2017 periods. Sauk County in particular more than tripled its annual increase, while Dodge also experienced a large increase.

A significant increase in net migration (in-migration minus out-migration) accounted for most of the rebound among these seven counties. All of them except Jefferson experienced negative net migration from 2010 to 2016. Yet, all seven of them turned that around in 2017 with increases in net migration.

net_migration_adjacent_counties

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, county population estimates (PEP_2017_PEPTCOMP_with_ann)

Dane County also experienced healthy net migration of an estimated 3,213 for the year between 2016 and 2017. However, the Census estimates that this was a decrease from the annual average of 3,860 from 2010 to 2016.

While it is too soon to draw many conclusions from a single year of data, the rebound of Wisconsin counties, and counties within the Greater Madison region, is a positive sign. Perhaps the strong national and state economy is attracting more people. Perhaps the vibrant Madison region growth is spreading out to adjacent counties. The coming years will fill in this picture.