Throughout the past decade, the I-94 North-South corridor between Milwaukee and the Illinois state line has been home to several major industrial real estate developments, but that job growth has yet to translate into robust population growth in Racine and Kenosha counties.
Kenosha County’s population grew only 1.6% to 169,151, an increase of 2,725 since 2010. Racine County's population grew only 1.2% to 197,727, an increase of 2,319. The pace of growth in both counties lagged behind Wisconsin’s statewide population growth of 3.6% and the national pace of 7.4%.
The core cities in both counties fell well short of the countywide pace. The city of Kenosha’s population grew just 0.8%, an increase of 768 to 99,986. The city of Racine lost 1,044 residents, a 1.3% drop to 77,816.
Excluding the core cities, both counties saw population growth of roughly 2.9%, still lagging behind the statewide pace. The counties did perform slightly better than Milwaukee County, which grew 2.7% when excluding the city of Milwaukee. The state’s largest city saw its population drop nearly 3% despite having some of the fastest growing areas in the state.
Neighboring Walworth County was a different story with 4.2% population growth since 2010, an increase of 4,250 to 106,478. The county’s pace of growth was ahead of Washington County but behind Waukesha and Ozaukee counties among southeastern Wisconsin counties.
A significant portion of Walworth County’s population growth came from a census tract covering Fontana and the town of Linn at the southwestern end of Geneva Lake. The tract’s population grew 62.7%, an increase of 1,409 from 2010 that put it among the fastest growing areas in the state, according to a BizTimes review of Census data processed by Angeliki Kastanis of the Associated Press.
Other census tracts around the lake also saw solid growth. A tract covering most of the lake from Williams Bay east grew 15.9%, the tract at the far eastern end grew 18.8% and the tract covering the northwest corner of the lake grew 8.8%.
The more detailed look at population changes shows Kenosha County, in particular, did see strong growth along the I-94 corridor.
The Pleasant Prairie census tract stretching from the interstate to Highway 31 and Highway 50 south to the state line grew 31.2%, an increase of 1,407.
On the west side of I-94, the census tract covering Bristol and portions of Pleasant Prairie and Somers grew 19% with an increase of 1,041.
However, the census tract to the north covering the towns of Paris and Brighton lost 136 residents, a 4.6% drop in population.
The census tracts along I-94 in southern Racine County also saw growth, although not quite as strong as in Kenosha County. The western Mount Pleasant tract, covering the area north of Sturtevant and wrapping around on the west side down to the county line, grew 4.7% by adding 207 residents.
On the west side of the interstate, the tract covering Yorkville grew 6.8% with the addition of 189 residents.
The fastest growing part of Racine County was north and west of Union Grove in a census tract that added 212 residents, a 29.2% increase from 2010.
The hardest hit portion of Racine County was in the city in a census tract located along the lake to the east of Highway 32 and south of Highway 20. That area’s population shrank 17.8% with the loss of 1,060 residents.
In the city of Kenosha, the downtown census tract grew 13.4%, an increase of 309 residents. That growth was offset by several surrounding census tracts that lost between 4% and 5% of their population.