Rural Illinois has lost population over the past decade. It’s gained in diversity.

McDONOUGH COUNTY, Ill. — Scott Schwerer wonders about the funding.

Over the past decade, McDonough County, where Schwerer serves as county board chair, has lost about 5,000 people, dropping its population below 30,000. At a 16% reduction, it’s the greatest decline among rural counties in the state, and it’s going to hit the area, particularly its largest city, Macomb, in the pocketbook.

“They will lose a lot of funding because of the census being lower,” he said.

McDonough County, about 150 miles north of St. Louis, isn’t alone. All but three rural counties in Illinois have lost population since 2010, reflecting a nationwide trend. The exodus is likely caused by, among other things, losing young people to big cities and the loss of agricultural jobs to technology, experts said.

“One of the issues that really sort of restructured the entire rural landscape over the past century has been this mechanization of agriculture,” said Christopher Merrett, professor and director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, in Macomb.

At the same time, all but two rural counties in Illinois are now more diverse, according to an Investigate Midwest analysis of 2020 Census data.

Region: Metro East,Business,City: St. Louis, MO


January 10, 2022 at 06:57AM

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