91 of 102 Illinois counties lose population in 2022
Illinois’ record population decline affected nearly all counties in 2022
Illinois’ population decline reached record-breaking levels in 2022 as the state’s population dropped by 104,437 residents from from July 2021-July 2022.
The losses were widespread, new data shows. There were 91 of Illinois’ 102 counties that lost population during that year, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released March 30.
The largest decline in numeric terms came from the state’s most populous counties. Cook County lost 68,314, DuPage County lost 5,547, Lake County lost 3,010, St. Clair County lost 2,351 and Kane County lost 2,001. The decline in Cook County was the second-most in the nation, behind only Los Angeles County.
While Illinois’ most populous areas are losing the largest number of residents, population decline is happening at the fastest rates in the state’s more rural areas. Alexander County, Henderson County, Perry County and Lawrence County led the state in population decline as a share of the population.
Statewide, population decline has been driven entirely by domestic migration – residents moving out. The same is largely true at the county level. Of the 91 counties to lose population, 80 of them (88%) also experienced domestic outmigration.
On the flip side, counties that experienced domestic outmigration are virtually guaranteed to see their populations decline as the natural increase in population (births minus deaths) continues to shrink over time. Of the 82 counties that experienced domestic outmigration, 80 (98%) saw their populations decline.
Traditionally, the major reasons Illinoisans are choosing to leave the state are for better housing and employment opportunities, both of which have been made worse by poor public policy in Illinois. Nearly half of Illinoisans have thought about moving away, and they said taxes were their No. 1 reason. Population decline also contributes to the lower economic prospects of the state.
The record number of residents who left Illinois this year should be a wake-up call to the state’s leaders, 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.