illinois population

Kristin Walters

Illinois continues to lose residents, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau released in April. Overall, around 45,000 fewer people lived in the state in 2018 than 2017, a loss of about 0.4%.

About half of that decline is in the Chicago metropolitan region, particularly in Cook County, which saw a 0.5% decrease. The recent numbers show growth in the Chicago region has slowed, but long-term trends find that downstate is shrinking at a much faster and sustained pace.

“If we take that longer view, we’re actually seeing population growth centered up around Chicago,” said Cynthia Buckley, a professor of sociology and social demographer at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois is continuing to lose population, according to new Census estimates out Wednesday.

Panelists in Alton, Illinois discussed why Illinois residents may be looking to move to bordering states. 

Questions from the audience ranged from recreational cannabis to property taxes. 

NPR Illinois news director Sean Crawford moderated a panel including:

  • Nathan Grimm, managing editor of the Alton Telegraph
  • Sara McGibany, executive director of Alton Main Street and board member of Senior Services Plus
  • Susie Harris, East Alton regional director of Caritas Family Solutions

This forum series is sponsored by AARP. 

Community member comments.
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois

Panelists in Moline joined NPR Illinois for the Seeking Solutions forum exploring the issue of residents leaving the state to move elsewhere.

Panelists:

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois is losing residents, according to recent census estimates, and common explanations include high taxes, unfriendly business policies or the state’s growing pension debt.

An article from the watchdog group Better Government Association examines those claims. The BGA’s senior editor, Bob Secter, says they distract from a deeper look at demographic trends.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner requested a sit-down with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, and covered a range of grievances in his hour-long conversation.

He blamed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not supporting the governor's agenda, he said House Republicans were not principled enough, and he seemed disappointed that Illinois no longer had a crisis he could leverage to pass his business-friendly, union-weakening agenda.

Illinois Issues: The Rural Exodus

Aug 10, 2017
Chumlee 10 / Flickr

Analysis: What should be done to respond to loss of rural population?

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Sean Crawford talks to Tim Landis of The State Journal-Register about the latest census numbers, and Brian Mackey interviews economist Natalie Davila and tax policy consultant Mike Klemens about their unique analysis of migration in and out of Illinois.

Hillard Family photo in field
Tonya Hilliard

Last year, Illinois was one of a handful of states that lost population. More than 90,000 people moved elsewhere.  It became a campaign issue for Governor when then candidate Bruce Rauner criticized the state's lack of friendliness to business. And it has others  throwing up caution flags.   The numbers don't mean mean there is a crisis, or even a real clamor, to leave the state.                     

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Political power is always relative. But at no time is this more apparent than in the period between the release of hard population numbers and the final draft of a new legislative map.

The trends documented by this latest decennial head count have been known for some time: Illinoisans, who constitute an increasingly diverse citizenry, continue a long-running migration from country to town, from city to suburb, while the locus of the state's populace and the political dominion persists in a northerly march to a mere six of 102 counties.