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Illinois Continues To Lose Residents, Particularly Outside Chicago Area

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this photo taken Saturday, March 21, 2020, a sofa is carried to a U-Haul rental moving truck as people move out of their home in Sausalito, Calif.

Illinois is failing to stem the tide of continual population loss that has beleaguered the state the last several years, according to recent U.S. Census data. A total of 80,000 people left the Land of Lincoln in 2020, marking the seventh straight year the state has sustained a population loss. In the last decade, Illinois has recorded the second-largest total population loss among U.S. states.

Erin Aleman is the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning that recently broke down the numbers.

"It wasn't unexpected, I think, but it continues a disheartening trend that we've seen across the state is just that, you know, people are leaving Illinois and the only state that has a higher rate of population loss was West Virginia," she said.

That population loss was most heavily concentrated in counties outside the Chicago area. But even in the few counties gaining new residents, the growth was modest at best.

"It begs the question of what do we need to be doing to growing our economy here, and not just in the metro region, but statewide," Aleman said.

Kendall County led the state with a gain of about 6.6%, or about 7,800 people, in the past decade. Only nine of Illinois' 102 counties saw a population increase over that timespan. Alexander County in far southern Illinois saw the largest decline, with nearly 20% of the county's population moving out since 2010.

Indiana, Florida, California and Wisconsin account for much of both the state's in-migration and out-migration. But the trend isn't Illinois' friend.

"We're seeing people from across the Midwest moving in and out of Illinois, and more people moving out than moving in, unfortunately, Aleman said.

Latinx immigration rates have dropped off statewide the last few years. Growth in that population traditionally sets losses and other demographics.

Analysts say Illinois stands to lose at least one and potentially two congressional seats to the population loss following reapportionment later this year.

Click here for a full breakdown of recent Illinois census data, courtesy of CMAP.

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