364,443 Illinoisans fell out of love with Illinois, moved away since 2020

364,443 Illinoisans fell out of love with Illinois, moved away since 2020

Illinois will celebrate this Valentine’s Day knowing it broke up with 364,443 people since 2020. While they moved out for now, lower taxes could win them back.

Each year on Valentine’s Day, millions pause to celebrate the people and connections that bind us. In Illinois, it’s also a sad reminder of just how many loved ones left us.

Since 2020, Illinois has lost 364,443 residents who moved away, with most leaving for lower-tax states. Overall, with births and other migration adding some residents, the state population shrank by more than a quarter million people since April 1, 2020.

Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason residents consider moving. The most recent Echelon Insights polling shows more than one-half of Illinoisans would leave the state if given the opportunity, citing the nation-leading taxes as their top reason.

But even when taxes were not a response option, surveys of those who have left the state showed the major reasons were for better housing and employment opportunities. Both have been made worse by high taxes and poor public policy in Illinois.

A decade’s worth of Illinois outmigration reports confirm residents aren’t feeling the love. The state recorded a 10th consecutive year of population decline in 2023, with one resident leaving every 6 minutes and 16 seconds.

The only U.S. states to lose more residents last year were New York and California.

Illinois population losses have been softened slightly by high levels of international immigration, a positive natural birth rate and a recent census correction finding 46,400 more residents living in group housing than initially tallied in 2020. But these gains are slight compared to the total population loss during that time. Plus, the reasons residents are fleeing Illinois at one of the highest rates in the nation need to be addressed.

If Springfield lawmakers want to woo people to stay or to move here, they should start by easing the state’s nation-leading tax burden and reducing arduous business regulations. Show them some love, or they will leave.

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