By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
New U.S. Census data shows that Illinois’ population declined by 45,116 in 2018, a record loss for the state.
That’s now five years in a row Illinois has shrunk, joining only West Virginia and Connecticut in losing population for five years or more.
Blame whatever you want: pensions, corruption, property taxes or perpetual budget crises, but there’s no denying Illinoisans are fleeing the state.
Here are the six key facts you need to know:
1. Illinois lost 45,116 people in 2018, a new record for the state. Illinois lost the 2nd-most population in the nation, just 3,000 less than New York’s total loss of 48,500 people. Illinois was one of just nine states to lose population.
2. Illinois has lost population five years in a row, totaling a loss of more than 157,000 people. That’s the equivalent of losing the entire city of Rockford.
Illinois joins only Connecticut in losing population five consecutive years. West Virginia stands alone at losing population six years in a row.
3. A key reason for Illinois’ loss in population is its continuous stream of residents leaving the state. Over 114,000 net residents left the state in 2018, a near record. Since 2000, that’s a net loss of nearly 1.5 million people.
4. The outmigration losses are some of the nation’s worst. When measured per 1,000 people, Illinois lost nearly 9 people to net outmigration, the 3rd-highest in the nation. And as the list below shows, none of Illinois’ neighbors make the top 20 list of biggest losers per 1,000. Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin each lost less than 1 person per 1,000 of population, ranking 25th, 26th and 27th, respectively. In contrast, Indiana and Kentucky actually had net migration increases.
5. Bad weather – the favorite excuse of those who deny Illinois’ outmigration problems – isn’t to blame for the state’s ills. All of Illinois’ neighboring states gained in population. In fact, Indiana gained nearly 32,000 last year and nearby Minnesota added nearly as many people as Illinois lost.
6. Some pundits will call Illinois’ 0.8 percent population loss since 2010 a rounding error. But while Illinois has shrunk, its neighbors have grown. Indiana has gained the equivalent of the City of Rockford and Iowa has gained the City of Elgin since the start of the decade.
But as long as they continue to fail, residents will continue to leave. And with them goes the tax base.
You don’t have to wonder what the wake up call is going to be. If it’s not the exodus of Illinoisans, it’s going to be insolvency. Illinois’ tax base simply won’t support all the debt that’s been built up.
Want to know why everybody’s leaving Illinois? Read the below:
- Illinois’ official pension shortfall worsens to $134 billion
- Illinois’ other debt disaster: $73 billion in unfunded state retiree health benefits
- Half of Illinois’ 650 public safety funds are less than 60 percent funded
- Despite $5B tax hike, Illinois forecasts billions in future deficits
- Progressives Zero In On Exit Tax On Illinois Wealth