By: John Klingner

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows Illinois has cemented its place as the nation’s extreme outlier in population losses. The state’s population fell by nearly 80,000 in 2020, making this the 7th year in a row Illinois’ population has shrunk. Only Connecticut and West Virginia share that distinction with Illinois.

When measured since 2010, the Prairie State’s population has dropped by 250,000, the most of any state in the country. Only six states nationally have fallen in population since 2010.

It’s too early to tell from the net numbers – the full Census data set comes out in February – but 2020 was likely a strange demographic year due to the impact of COVID-19. Sixteen states, more than usual, lost population this year.

Here are the key facts you need to know:

1. Illinois’ population fell by nearly 80,000 in 2020, the 2nd-most in the nation. Only New York lost more people. The biggest winners of population are the same states that have been winning the competition for people: Texas, Florida and Arizona, among others. Texas gained over 370,000 people alone.

2. Illinois had the nation’s 2nd-worst loss as a percentage of population at 0.63%. Only New York lost a greater percentage of people. States like Idaho, Arizona and Nevada, on the other hand, grew by more than 1.50% on the year.

3. Overall, Illinois shrunk the most of any state in the nation between 2010 and 2020. There are now 250,000 fewer people in Illinois today than in 2010. Illinois is one of only six states to lose population over the decade, along with West Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi and Vermont.

In contrast, Florida has gained nearly 2.9 million people and Texas has added a whopping 4.1 million to its population since 2010.

Overall, Illinois has lost 2 percent of its 2010 population. Only West Virginia has shrunk more, with 3.7 percent of its population lost.

4. Illinois has lost population seven years in a row. Cumulatively, the state has lost over 308,000 people since 2014. That’s the equivalent of losing the entire population of both Rockford and Naperville.

5. Illinois’ neighbors are gaining population. Almost all of Illinois’ neighboring states, including cold-weather ones like Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana gained population in 2020. Only Michigan, which is experiencing a malaise of its own, shrunk along with Illinois.

6. Cold weather is not to blame for the state’s ills. Overall, Illinois has lost 2 percent of its population since 2010. And while Illinois has shrunk seven years in a row, every one of its neighbors experienced positive growth compared to 2010.

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Think whatever you want about why, 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.

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Joe Blow
21 days ago

79 THOUSAND taxpayers left the state, and who’s left holding the bill? The people who stay

anonymous
23 days ago

The morons keep governing and running Illinois into the ground. People leave
Cause and effect !

John Morton
26 days ago

So now you get to pay a larger share of the pensions for State employees who will likely get as much or more in pensions than you will earn in your producing years.

Greg G
29 days ago

2019 was the year we took the Illinois Exodus & we have not been let down, not even with Hurricane Sally hitting us! The democrats’ tax & spend policies & have bankrupted the entire state. Dems keep getting elected as they promise the moon to everybody & for a while now, the takers have outnumbered the makers & the politicians get paid either way. Start with a new speaker of the house. Next, pension reform. Fair maps must be drawn for fair representation. Tax CUTS must happen as well as budget CUTS and I do mean deep & hard cuts.… Read more »

29 days ago

There are so many Chicago transplants at my club here in Las Vegas they have Malort at the bar

Indy
29 days ago

The smart ones are moving to Indiana.

Chitown
29 days ago
Reply to  Indy

Used to be the opposite. Smart people moved from Indiana to Illinois in search of a better life. Now people are leaving Illinois for the exact same reason. There is no future here. None.

Thee Jabroni
29 days ago
Reply to  Chitown

I agree,but theres a bright future here if youre on welfare or an illegal alien,all kinds of free stuff for those that take and dont contribute,just ask any democrat

Joe Blow
21 days ago
Reply to  Indy

Indiana sucks and Illinois blows!

Lee
29 days ago

That what you get when your state has a democrat controlled super majority. The ship is sinking and idiot voters keep re-electing the same irresponsible, incompetent, and corrupt politicians

Last edited 29 days ago by Lee
Tina
29 days ago
Reply to  Lee

The problem is the foreign base in cookcounty they don’t understand the dynamics of voting local official’s in the office, they care only that the state stays a sanctuary city so they can be left alone, they only know what they see on tv with little to no research on the candidate. My vote went unheard I moved to a red state and love it and want it to stay this way.

Hock
29 days ago

I wish I could blame it on the Democratic ruling class, but I have not seen much action from the Republicans either. They all like to thump their chest and cry out about injustice, but do nothing to solve the problems. One man stands at the front of the line “Madigan” for the corruption and heavy tax burden to this State. How many “No Show Jobs” have taxpayers been paying for? Now Madigan has everything shut down so he cannot be removed from office. Remember when the Tollway was supposed to just charge tolls till it was paid for then… Read more »

Susan
29 days ago
Reply to  Hock

Agreed. Yammering on blogs gets us nowhere. The solution lies in monetization of exposure of political corruption. (And that is a HUGE untapped resource. Political corruption costs are asymmetrically higher than the rewards enjoyed by corrupt participants). The most obvious mechanism to accomplish this is civil litigation by taxpayers. Unfortunately Whistle-blower laws’ rewards and protections ( False Claim Act) focus on BIG cases and do not allow for evidence obtained throughFOIA . However,, in Illinois the corrupt political industry is complacent because they have enjoyed decades of taxpayer/ voter apathy/inaction. There are Many many MANY instances of blatant disregard for… Read more »

Riverbender
29 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Your “exposure of political corruption” makes a lot of sense but in my neck of the woods commenting on the local paper articles has been censored and more or less shut down meaning when the paper puts out a “feel good” editorialized article any comments to the contrary exposing the whole situation are systematically eliminated or not allowed to begin with. Even Yahoo now has gotten into the censorship by readers by eliminating the ability to comment on its editorialized news articles. I fully agree with you but am disappointed in the reality that it will never happen. (hoping I… Read more »

Susan
29 days ago
Reply to  Riverbender

It happens when people like us make it happen. It has to happen on a hyper local basis, and has zero to do with newspaper articles. When the taxing body is faced with legal consequences for a bad act, they are advised by counsel to avoid committing bad act (in that same manner) in the future. Find a violation of law by a taxing body, find a lawyer who will take on tax objection lawsuit on continency, then sign up enough neighbors in your taxing district as plaintiffs to make it worth that lawyer’s while. You will not be rewarded,… Read more »

debtsor
29 days ago
Reply to  Hock

Illinois Republicans have been gerrymandered out of existence. It’s difficult to have an Illinois Republican party when candidates have so little chance of winning that they allow Democrats to run for most offices unopposed. And lets be honest: We now know that Democrats are cheating all the close races.

Mr_Common_Sense
29 days ago
Reply to  Hock

…”I wish I could blame it on the Democratic ruling class”..

I DO blame the “Ruling Class”…democrats have had the keys to the store for nearly 30 years.

Why would anyone blame Republicans?

TLS
27 days ago
Reply to  Hock

How many Republicans are there? 5?

Tom Kaye
29 days ago

Springfield is not serious about trying to solve the growing deficit situation until they start seriously looking at reducing 2 of the Sacred Cows, almost 7,000 state and local Government bodies (most in the nation) and 821 School districts (most in the nation including Texas and California both of which have more then double the Illinois population). Not only do these cost unnecessary current tax dollars but huge Pension liabilities.

Old Spartan
29 days ago

Great analysis by Klingner. These six points should be the focus of every level of government, which of course they wont be. And number 4 is the most serious– the population loss is getting worse year by year, not slowing down or reversing.

Fedupandpacking
30 days ago

Add two more to Indiana in two weeks! Yup it is not the cold weather, but the politics and high taxes lack of employment,

Riverbender
30 days ago

As people move out Illinois will lose electoral votes going forward meaning that in the long run the Democrats are actually cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Funny how that will eventually work out.

30 days ago

Bankrtuptcy.

mqyl
30 days ago

Also, I noticed Cook County residential property owners just received a whopping 10 percent property tax increase for 2021 (not to be confused with the whopping increases in recent years). Hopefully, nonsense like this will cause another surge of people to move out of IL.

30 days ago
Reply to  mqyl

Nope. It won’t. They will vote for a different Democrat, who will use different words while campaigning and they’ll get more of the same. Meanwhile, the Republican party in Illinois is so utterly broken, it can’t support a candidate if one arrives. And if one arrived that wanted to upset the apple cart, they wouldn’t back them.

C Gooby
30 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

This is such a negative view, accurately reflecting history but failing to recognize value of location, changes in human psyche over time, historic strength of Illinois business and people, etc. Life is short and we can understand the need to flee, for some, outweighs homesteading. With positive small steps, Illinois will again be attracting people and business in the future….hopefully sooner than later.

29 days ago
Reply to  C Gooby

Sorry, but we live in a tech enabled society now. Location matters less. Chicago has a great airport for example. But so do Dallas, Houston and Miami. So does Las Vegas. So does Denver. Illinois cannot afford small steps. It’s far past that. It needs a total tear down and rebuild. This is not a one room home remodeling project. It’s a demolition, and start over

Aaron
29 days ago
Reply to  C Gooby

Lol, typical democrap politician speak. The tax burden of the Illinois tax payer will grow for the rest of our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes. Attracting people? Whaaat? Oh yea, there are people moving to Illinois like that French company putting in that maggot farm in Decatur. Soldierfly maggot larva meal coming to a table near you.

Chitown
29 days ago
Reply to  C Gooby

Sorry but there is not one single demographic or financial trend that is in Illinois favor. Illinois already has some of the highest taxes in the nation but its almost the most indebted state in the nation. So Illinois residents can look forward to increasing taxes along with fewer services. There is no real alternative. Illinois has not been a place for people to move to since the 1960’s . Illinois has for years seen more people move out than move in. But foreign immigration and more births than deaths kept population increasing thought slowly . From 2000 to 2010… Read more »

American Eagle
29 days ago
Reply to  C Gooby

Those positive small steps of which you speak will do NOTHING to get Illinois out of the massive, miles deep hole that the democrat controlled legislatures have dug.

C Gooby
30 days ago
Reply to  mqyl

A good “win” is Jelly Belly cuts in jobs recently announced. Cuts in services next, followed by addition cuts in jobs. Followed by claw backs of giveaways and excessive retirement commitments, Loud criticism of excessive free services like abortion for all, sanctuary benefits, free phones, cable etc. More personal responsibility for picking up trash, recycling your packaging, riding bikes and walking instead of driving and bus riding, elder care in the home, educate by parent….this will force change and can be done! Act now!

Ex Illini
29 days ago
Reply to  C Gooby

JB talked about cuts, but he hasn’t done anything yet. Get back to me when expenses actually shrink. I won’t hold my breath waiting. Each and every year the state is on the hook for millions more in pension contributions.

HillaryClintonsPantSuit
28 days ago
Reply to  Ex Illini

Cuts = fewer votes. Cuts will never happen till after the bankruptcy filing for the state.

Joe Blow
21 days ago
Reply to  mqyl

be thankful its “only” 10 percent LOL