Illinois Congressional Districts for the 113th Congress

Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

With a fourth consecutive year of population decline, Illinoisans are left to wonder how many congressional voices they will lose in the 2020 Census.

In 2002, Illinois lost one U.S. representative. Reapportionment cost another in 2012. The accelerating population decline over the last four years has some Illinoisans worried that the state will be down to 16 members of the U.S. House from the current 18.

“The chances are increasing that the bar will be set at such a place that we will now lose two,” Southern Illinois University at Carbondale professor emeritus John Jackson said. “Especially if these trends continue.”

Jackson said the state’s population losses have been more pronounced in rural areas and small towns, whereas suburban Chicago has seen growth.

In losing population, Illinois also will likely lose a number of electoral votes, lessening the state’s presidential pull.

Northern Illinois University professor Scot Schraufnagel worries about Illinois’ youth leaving, leading to an economic tailspin.

“Illinois has passed up New Jersey for the nation’s top exporter of college students,” he said. “A decline in population leads to poorer economic conditions which, in turn, feeds the exodus.”

Site selection experts often state that population loss is a key economic indicator in choosing to locate or expand business.

Illinois has lost nine congressmen since 1910. Only New York and Pennsylvania lost more over that time. Pennsylvania overtook Illinois as the nation’s fifth most-populous state in the Census data released Wednesday.

Real Clear Politics predicted in 2016 that Illinois was close to losing two seats in the 2022 reapportionment.