2015 to 2050 Population Projections

Population estimates for the region are from the 2010 Decennial Census figures, and factored to account for growth between 2010 and 2015. County-level population projections were developed by the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana state data centers, and based on the best available Census data. These population projections were used as a starting point for OKI’s population projections, with methodological changes to reflect recent trends in population growth in the region.

Population by County

The previous regional transportation plan predicted that the OKI region’s population would surpass two million by 2020. Indeed, according to Census Bureau and OKI estimates, the region surpassed that threshold in 2015. Between 2015 and 2050, the combined population of all eight counties is expected to grow an additional 11 percent, from 2 million to 2.3 million. Most of that growth will take place in the next decade, with the region growing six percent between 2015 and 2030.

Population Change by County

As the Cincinnati metropolitan area has expanded over the years, growth has radiated through Hamilton County into the surrounding areas. Population is projected to continue to increase in the remaining counties throughout the 35-year planning period, with the exception of Campbell County.

Hamilton County consistently lost population during the last three decades of the 20th century, but this trend has reversed itself over the course of the past several years. In fact, Hamilton County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the region, as people have returned to the urban core. This trend is expected to continue through 2040 and, possibly, beyond.

The most populous county, Hamilton, is expected to have a slightly decreasing share of the region’s population (a projected drop from 39.5 percent in 2015 to 36.9 percent in 2050). However, estimates project that Hamilton County will see the third largest gain in residents over the next 35 years, behind Butler and Boone counties. Campbell County’s population is anticipated to continue fluctuating as it has in past decades, with a small population loss by 2050. Boone County is projected to be the fastest growing county, accounting for about 43 percent of total population growth in the region.

Population Trends for Selected Metropolitan Areas

The OKI region is wholly contained within the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). While the OKI region had a population of 2.07 million in 2015, the larger Cincinnati MSA had a population of 2.18 million—meaning the OKI Region accounted for about 95 percent of the population within the Cincinnati MSA. Since MSAs have a standardized definition, this section compares past growth among regional MSAs. Greater Cincinnati has added the fourth largest number of new residents since 1990, among the selected MSAs. It is expected that the larger MSAs within Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana—including Greater Cincinnati—will continue to lead the way in population growth through 2050.

Population Projection for OKI Region and Constituent States

Between 2015 and 2050, the OKI Region is projected to experience a growth rate higher than that of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana as whole. While our region will experience a growth rate around 11 percent, Kentucky and Indiana each are expected to grow about 10 percent; Ohio is expected to grow less than 1 percent. Growth in the OKI Region will offset losses in some other metro and rural areas throughout all three states.

Age Composition for the OKI Region

The following pie charts show the age makeup of the OKI Region in 2015 and in 2050. While the percent of population in all age groups under 65 will be stable or lower in 2050 than in 2015, the percent in the oldest age cohort of 65-plus will grow from 13 to 18 percent.

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