85% of Illinois communities lose people in 2022; Chicago loses 33k

85% of Illinois communities lose people in 2022; Chicago loses 33k

1,108 Illinois communities of all sizes shared in the record loss of more than 104,000 residents in 2022, according to new Census Bureau data. Chicago lost 32% of the state’s total.

Illinois’ population loss hit more than 85% of its cities, towns and villages in 2022, but 32% of the state’s 104,437-person loss came out of the city of Chicago, new Census data shows.

Population decline in Illinois is spreading, now affecting more than 85% of communities throughout the state and hitting communities of all sizes. There were 1,108 of Illinois 1,296 incorporated places that lost population in 2022, according to data released May 18 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The largest share of Illinois’ population decline is coming from the state’s largest communities. Cities with a population of more than 100,000 residents together lost nearly 38,000 people during 2022.

Population decline being concentrated among the most populous areas of the state wasn’t because these areas have more people to begin with. Even when controlling for population levels, Illinois’ largest cities are experiencing rates of population decline more than 50% faster than smaller communities.

Rural areas actually experienced the slowest rates of population decline in 2022, although it should be noted the rate of population decline in Illinois cities with populations above 100,000 would be -4.7 per 1,000 residents had it not been for the large population decline in Chicago. Despite population decline affecting the overwhelming majority of Illinois communities, the state’s shrinking population is disproportionately concentrated in Chicago.

Chicago lost 32,990 residents from July 2021-July 2022, the second-most of any city in America. Only New York City lost more people than Chicago during 2022.

Chicago’s population problems could get even worse if Mayor Brandon Johnson’s tax proposals become reality. One of Johnson’s key campaign platforms was to drastically raise taxes. He’s called for at least $800 million in new and increased taxes on what he calls “the suburbs, airlines and ultra-rich.” That plan will likely mean more businesses and residents fleeing the city. However, a new report authored by a member of Johnson’s transition team suggest his tax hikes could be far costlier.

An Illinois Policy Institute survey conducted by Echelon Insights Feb. 15-19 found 34% of Chicagoans would leave the city if given the opportunity, citing taxes and affordability as their No. 2 concern behind crime.

In their open responses, 39% cited the city’s near nation-leading taxes and the high cost of living as their main reason for wanting to leave.

Johnson’s tax plan would virtually guarantee the area continues to experience a mass exodus of residents well into the future.

Still, population decline isn’t just a Chicago problem. Rapid population decline within Chicago and across the rest of the state has left Illinois with a shrinking population, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. Statewide, Illinois population declined by more than 104,000 from July 2021 through July 2022. Virtually every single metropolitan area within the state suffered population decline last year.

The record number of residents who left Illinois from every corner of the state this year should be a wake-up call to the state’s leaders currently drafting the state budget, who refuse to adopt policies that would make it easier for residents to stay in Illinois. Reforms that would ease Illinoisans’ tax burden or reduce arduous business regulations are needed to make the state more affordable and send people running to Illinois, rather than away from it.

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