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79% of Illinois communities lose people in 2021; Chicago loose 45K

1,019 Illinois communities of all sizes shared in the loss of 114,000 residents in 2021, new census data shows. Chicago lost 40% of the total.

Illinois’ population loss hit nearly 80% of its cities in 2021, but 40% of the state’s 114,000-person loss came out of the city of Chicago, new Census data shows.

Population decline hit communities of all sizes across Illinois indiscriminately in 2021, with 1,019 of Illinois incorporated 1,298 places losing population, according to US Census data released May 26. While the state’s largest cities were slightly more likely to experience population decline, places of all sizes were being hurt by population loss at an alarming rate.

The largest share of Illinois’ population decline is also coming from the state’s largest communities. Cities with a population of more than 100,000 residents together lost nearly 50,000 people during 2021.

Population decline being concentrated among the most populous areas of the state wasn’t because these areas have more people to begin with. Even when controlling for population levels, Illinois’ largest cities are experiencing the fastest rates of population decline.

Rural areas actually experienced the slowest rates of population decline in 2021, although it should be noted that the rate of population decline in Illinois cities with populations above 100,000 would be -4.9 per 1,000 residents had it not been for the large population decline in Chicago. Despite population decline affecting the overwhelming majority of Illinois communities, the state’s shrinking population is disproportionately concentrated in Chicago.

Chicago lost 45,175 residents from July 2020-July 2021, third-most of any city in America. Only San Francisco and New York lost more people than Chicago during 2021.

Rapid population decline within Chicago and across the rest of the state has left Illinois with a shrinking population, according to the latest US Census Bureau data. Statewide, Illinois population declined by nearly 114,000 from July 1, 2020, through July 1, 2021, the second-worst rate in the nation, ahead of only New York.

As more and more data continues to confirm Illinois has a serious people problem, Gov. JB Pritzker has attempted to take advantage of confusion surrounding Census Bureau data to claim Illinois is growing. Meanwhile, the root causes of Illinois’ population struggles remain jobs, housing and tax policy.

Rather than trying to spin Census data for political gain during a reelection campaign, Pritzker should focus on reforms to address Illinois’ $313 billion pension debt that is eating state revenues and crowding out valuable services for residents. It is also forcing them to pay the highest taxes in the Midwest.

He should focus on fixing policies to give Illinoisans more reasons to stay.

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