TOPEKA AREA BECOMES YOUNGER, MORE DIVERSE, AS 2021 U.S. CENSUS DATA SHOW SHAWNEE COUNTY ACHIEVED RECORD POPULATION GROWTH OVER TWO YEARS
Topeka, KS — The U.S. Census Bureau released its 2021 American Community Survey data on Sept. 15, showing that Shawnee County’s population in 2021 increased by 1,389 residents over 2019 — the fastest population growth recorded in 10 years. The data also showed that Shawnee County is the only community among the top-five largest counties in Kansas to become younger during the two-year period, with the county’s median age decreasing by 1.8 years to 38.4. The decrease was driven by increases in children under 18 (+1.9%) and young adults aged 25-44 (+7.8%). Shawnee County in 2021 led the state in growth in children under 18 and young adults aged 25-44.
“Between 2019 and 2021, the population in the county grew at an impressive rate,” said Freddy Mawyin, senior economic advisor for the Greater Topeka Partnership and GO Topeka. “This was the largest and fastest population growth we have seen in the last decade. Our initiatives to attract new and younger talent are paying dividends, and this is evident in higher employment numbers, more attraction and retention projects, and a decrease in the county’s median age. It is also important to note that the community is becoming more diverse, as our non-white population grew by almost 7%. That growth is being led by increases in Asian, Hispanic and bi-racial groups.”
According to the data, Shawnee County saw the largest gains demographically in those identifying as bi-racial, which grew by 68%. Meanwhile, the number of local Asian residents increased by 24.8%, and Topekans identifying as Latino grew by 4.8%.
“This is what happens when you put strategy into motion,” said Matt Pivarnik, CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership. “Our record-hot housing market the past two years has led us to anticipate some population growth, but we are very excited to see this type of momentum occurring in a relatively short period of time! This is yet another metric validating the progress this community has fought for over the course of Momentum 2022. I couldn’t be more proud and can’t wait to see what else we accomplish together through Momentum 2027 — because Topeka/Shawnee County is just getting started.”
“Our growth in young professionals, in particular, is very exciting,” said Fatima Perez-Luthi, incoming chair of Forge Young Talent and a member of Forge’s DEI committee. “Our mission is to provide young adults in Topeka and Shawnee County new ways to connect and build the future they want for themselves. I am proud to see our community make notable gains in this demographic. Word is getting out, and it’s become clear Topeka is the best community for young adults and families to get started in.”
“It is interesting to note that this growth aligns with the launch of our Choose Topeka program,” said Molly Howey, president of GO Topeka. “Although the initiative is limited in scope, the international attention the program continues to receive has reintroduced Topeka and Shawnee County to people across the country. GO Topeka developed the program to better attract talent by encouraging them to consider Topeka as their future home — and that strategy is paying off faster than we expected.”
“The recent numbers from the 2021 U.S. Census American Community Survey are impactful because they show us that our community is growing in meaningful ways,” said Topeka Mayor Mike Padilla, a Momentum 2027 tri-chair. “It’s exciting to see that Topeka and Shawnee County is more diverse than ever before, and that young people are choosing to make Topeka their home. We should celebrate recent economic development projects and efforts like Momentum 2022, as well as work that focuses on equity and inclusion. These efforts have aided us in fostering a welcoming community, and a sense of belonging and pride.”
“It is wonderful to see our community be embraced as a great place for young people and families,” said Tara Dimick, a Momentum 2027 tri-chair. “These metrics highlight the efforts of so many people, organizations and businesses that work to make Topeka a wonderful place to live and thrive — and they serve as a perfect launchpad for us to continue to make progress as we prepare to embark on Topeka and Shawnee County’s next five-year strategic plan.”
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About the Greater Topeka Partnership
Officially formed at the start of 2018, the Greater Topeka Partnership (GTP) unites four Topeka organizations — the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, GO Topeka, Visit Topeka and Downtown Topeka Inc. — under the shared belief that coordinated efforts can lead to greater economic prosperity throughout Topeka and Shawnee County. The GTP is also home to Forge Young Talent and oversees implementation of the community’s Momentum development plans. For more information, visit TopekaPartnership.com.