By: Diane Benjamin
U.S. Census data released Thursday showed the population in every one of the state’s metropolitan areas declined in the past year for the first time.
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.
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.
As a whole, Illinois’ population fell by more than 45,000 in the 12 months ending in July.
Illinois has had five consecutive years for population declines.