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Illinois population drops by more than 45,000, per latest Census report

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Thursday, December 20, 2018  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach

Demographics, Census, Statistics
Illinois had the largest population decline in the nation in 2018, the continuation of a years-long retreat from the state, according to figures from U.S. Census Bureau released Wednesday.

Census numbers show 114,154 people moved out of Illinois in the 12 months ending in July. In total, Illinois’ population shrank to 12,741,080, a total population loss of 45,116 from last year. This marks the fifth consecutive year of total population loss for the state and the largest drop in population in more than a decade.

With an outmigration of more than 114,000 in 2017 Illinois was relegated to America’s sixth-largest state, falling behind Pennsylvania.

The data begins in July 2017, the same time that Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto to pass a historic income tax hike, raising the rate to 5 percent, up from 3.75 percent.

In the months before July 2017 dating back to the recession, Illinois saw job growth at 1.7 percent, in line with the rest of the nation. Data from the next twelve months that coincide to the day with Census data, Illinois saw jobs growth slow to .97 percent, 44th in the nation.

The reason why people continue to leave is not clear, but is likely the result of many factors. Some point to the state's weather, cost-of-living, crime in areas like Chicago’s South Side, and greater opportunity in other states. Illinois has seen the lowest wage growth since the Great Recession of nearly any state. 

As a result of the population loss, Illinois is on track to lose at least one member of Congress after the apportionment process in 2021. This, accompanied with fewer electoral votes in presidential elections, leaves Illinois with a diminished voice in federal matters.