By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
Illinois’ population has dropped by nearly 170,000 since 2010 and few of the state’s counties have been spared from those losses, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. In all, 93 of the state’s 102 counties shrunk between 2010 and 2019.
Cook County lost nearly 49,000 people during the decade, the most of any county in Illinois. Winnebago and St. Clair counties were next, with losses of 12,500 and 10,700 respectively.
Lake, Peoria, Macon, Madison, Vermillion, Rock Island and LaSalle counties rounded out the top ten biggest losers of population – all of them lost more than 5,000 residents. For the full county-by-county data on winners and losers, see the tables in the appendix below.
At the other end of the spectrum, just nine of the state’s 102 counties managed to gain population over the period. Kane County, the best people-winner in the state, saw its population increase by 16,000 since 2010. Kendall County gained 13,600 people. Will County was next with 11,900.
The only other counties to show growth were Champaign, DuPage, McLean, Monroe, Grundy, and Williamson.
The story gets even worse for some counties when losses are measured on a percentage basis. Alexander County lost 30 percent of its population, or about 2,445 people. Gallatin lost about 13 percent. Many already-small counties have emptied out at a pace of 10 percent or more in the last decade.
Collectively, Illinois’ downstate counties have suffered the worst loss of population, by far. The whole region lost nearly 144,000 people between 2010 and 2019, or 3.2 percent of its 2010 population.
Three (DuPage, Will and Kane) of the five collar counties gained population, leaving the collar counties as the only growth area in Illinois. In all, the collar counties were up 0.8 percent.
However, that increase was largely at the expense of Cook County. Other migration data shows many Illinois residents move to the collars from Cook County.
Cook County itself lost nearly 49,000, or 0.9 percent, of its total population over the 2010-2019 period. That’s on top of the 170,000 people it lost in the decade prior to that.
A 0.9 percent loss may not sound like much, but compared to the nation’s largest counties, Cook County is an outlier. Wirepoints analyzed the population change for the nation’s 50 most populous counties and found that Cook was one of just six counties to lose population since 2010.
Add up all the losses and it’s no surprise that Illinois is the extreme outlier when it comes to population losses nationally. Only four states have shown losses, with Illinois leading the country in shrinkage.
Think whatever you want, but Illinois’ brand of politics and policy is being categorically rejected year after year by far too many residents.
Until the state’s policies are flipped on their head – until Illinoisans finally get the big spending and governance reforms they desperately need – expect many more to uproot their lives to find opportunities elsewhere.
Read more about the crises in Illinois:
- Same old bad news in new 2020 Illinois pension report belies far worse reality
- Look Who Is Standing In The Schoolhouse Door Now: The Chicago Teachers Union
- Illinois still fails its elderly, veterans as COVID deaths hit record highs
- Illinois to borrow billions from the Feds AGAIN, only state in country to tap government lending program