Illinois loses another 80K residents

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Exodus accelerates in annual midyear estimates separate from U.S. Census count

A near-empty Daley Plaza in Chicago makes a statement about the COVID-19 pandemic, but also about Illinois’s persistent drop in population. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

A near-empty Daley Plaza in Chicago makes a statement about the COVID-19 pandemic, but also about Illinois’s persistent drop in population. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Illinois lost another 80,000 residents over the last year, according to July population estimates released Tuesday, separate from the formal 2020 U.S. Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau releases annual population estimates for state and national populations at midyear, drawn from the base counts of the previous census. Unlike previous years, this year’s Census Bureau estimates were not accompanied by a formal news release. Instead, just raw data tables were released, and the bureau advised: “The Census Bureau recommends using these estimates for research purposes,” and “they are typically used in comparisons with the 2020 Census to make determinations about the accuracy of the estimates” going forward.

But, pending the final 2020 U.S. Census count, the latest estimates are sure to fuel debate over the cause of what many people call the “Illinois exodus.”

The overall U.S. population, according to estimates, rose just 155,000 year to year, to 329,484,123. The Northeast lost about 150,000 residents, the South and West gained slightly, and the Midwest remained almost exactly the same, losing about 23,000 residents to 68.3 million.

But Illinois lost population for the seventh straight year, and the rate actually accelerated to a drop of about 80,000 year to year, as the bureau put the state population at 12,587,530, down from 12,667,017 in July 2019.

Illinois lost just over 50,000 residents last year, and about 45,000 the year before that. The state recorded 12,830,632 residents in the last Census in 2010, and it actually increased population through 2013, peaking at 12,895,778, but it has lost population every year since. This year’s estimates indicate a 1.9 percent drop in population since the last Census, almost 250,000.

Illinois remained sixth in the nation by population, with seventh-place Ohio still within 1 million after losing an estimated 3,000 residents this year to 11,693,217. California, the most populous state, lost about 70,000 residents to 39.4 million.

A month ago, Census Bureau officials said they would not have final 2020 population counts before President Trump leaves office Jan. 20. The count got tangled in Trump’s attempt to remove undocumented immigrants from the count, contrary to the U.S. Constitution and decades of established precedent. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the legality of that maneuver this month, apparently in hopes that the incoming Biden administration will resolve that on its own.

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December 22, 2020 at 02:23PM

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