New Census Data Shows We’re Shrinking!

New Census Data Shows We’re Shrinking!

New U.S. Census data released today (Thursday, April 18, 2019) shows the population in every one of the state’s metropolitan areas declined in the past year for the first time.  Cole Laughterbach has more….

The Chicago metropolitan area, which includes suburban cities and portions of Wisconsin and Indiana, reported the largest population decrease in the nation, shrinking by an estimated 22,068 people. That represents 0.23 percent of the area’s total population of about 9.5 million people.

Population in the Danville area shrank by 1.26 percent, representing an estimated 970 people. Nationally, only three other communities saw a bigger percentage decline. It also marked Danville’s largest decrease in population in recent years, the next highest being a loss of 778 in 2014.

The largely industrial area has seen declines in economic output in both 2016 and 2017, according to Moody’s Data Analytics.

Danville District 118 School Board President Bill Dobbles had noted during a board meeting last week that over the past two years the district’s total enrollment had dropped by 526 students.  Dobbles says that represents a loss equal to about one-and-a-half elementary schools.  There were 5,921 students attending Danville’s Public Schools two years ago.  Now there are 5,395.   Associate Superintendent John Hart said during last week’s meeting that different options are being explored because of the lower numbers.

Other metropolitan areas that saw population losses included Decatur (821), Springfield, (1,539), Carbondale (590), Kankakee (520), Rockford (594) and the Bloomington-Normal area (157).

“The people leaving are mostly prime working age between 25 and 54,” said Bryce Hill, research analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute. “They’re looking for work and a place to start a family.”

Champaign-Urbana, which has historically seen growth, saw a population loss of 234 people.

The only listed micropolitan area in Illinois that reported population growth was Effingham, gaining 61 people from 2017’s figures.

Those who leave Illinois often move to southern, low-tax states such as Florida and Texas. But others have moved to Indiana, other neighboring states and Tennessee, according to previous reports from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Census figures released Thursday don’t show where residents went; only population change.

At the county level, 86 of Illinois’ 102 counties lost people.

Illinois has had five consecutive years for population declines.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s revenue projections for his progressive tax plan assumed the state’s population would stay flat until 2021. His administration has projected the governor’s progressive income tax would bring in an additional $3.4 billion in revenue. Population declines could make those estimates less accurate.

Population losses mean fewer taxpayers, thus a smaller pool to draw that promised revenue from, Hill said.

Pritkzer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the Census figures.

As a whole, Illinois’ population fell by more than 45,000 in the 12 months ending last July.