Illinois lost population in the year ended June 30 and now is one of only two states to have fewer people than it did in the 2010 census.
Those are the latest population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, estimates that show that no state in the Northeast or Midwest is doing well, but Illinois is doing particularly badly.
In the 2010 census, Illinois had a reported population of 12,831,574. The Land of Lincoln slowly clawed its way up to 12,879,505 in mid-2013, but now is down to 12,801,539 after losing more than 37,500 people in the past year. The loss here is the biggest of any state.
Illinois has some cold-weather company in the downward trend, with Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut also losing residents in the same 12-month period.
But only one other state is like Illinois, having lost population overall between 2010 and 2016. That is West Virginia, home of a disappearing coal industry that’s been hit just as hard as some aspects of Illinois’ economy.
The latest figures do not break down the shift by city, county or race. But with other census data showing that the city of Chicago’s population finally is on the rebound, especially downtown, the new data suggest that downstate areas that are depending on factory jobs are particularly getting hammered.
The new stats are not good news. Among other things, as researchers already have been suggesting, Illinois almost certainly will lose another member of Congress after the decennial census.
Overall, national growth has eased back to just 0.7 percent a year. But as before, it’s concentrated in states in the West and South.
Meanwhile, the population news is making political waves. “Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation population decline provides yet another example of the devastation caused by Governor Bruce Rauner,” the Illinois Working Together union coalition said in a statement. “The economic uncertainty created by the Rauner budget impasse has stifled job growth, pushing middle class families to look elsewhere for opportunities. Meanwhile, Rauner’s draconian cuts to social services and public universities force both clients and employees to flee the state.
“The governor needs to realize that holding the budget hostage for his extreme agenda is simply the wrong way to go.”
Update, 4 p.m. — According to Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, the Illinois drop and that in many northern states is a sort of return to the norm, with domestic out-migration rising again after dropping in the years of the great subprime mortgage recession.
He writes, “Many states with histories of substantial domestic migration loss that sustained smaller migration losses during the recession are now experiencing substantial domestic migration losses again. Both Massachusetts and Illinois experienced larger domestic migration losses in each of the last two years than they did earlier in the decade. Massachusetts’ domestic migration loss was nearly 26,000 last year compared to just 3,700 in 2012-2013. In Illinois, the net domestic migration loss grew to 114,000 from 68,000 in the same period. With domestic migration losses again growing, population gains are diminishing in Massachusetts and population losses are growing in Illinois, despite continuing immigration gains and slowly declining levels of natural increase in each state . . . New York’s domestic migration loss of 191,000 last year remains smaller than the 232,600 it lost during 2004-2005, but it is growing again.”
In other words, jobs are again plentiful in the West and South. So people are again voting by calling the moving vans.