Illinois losing 1 resident every 4.6 minutes to other states
Heavy losses of Illinoisans to other states have caused the Land of Lincoln to shrink for four consecutive years.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau are revealing the severity of Illinois’ people problem.
From July 2016 to July 2017, Illinois saw a net loss of nearly 115,000 people to other states on net, or 1 person every 4.6 minutes. Even on a per capita basis, no neighboring state came close to those losses.
Since 2010, Illinois has lost nearly 643,000 residents to other states on net. That’s equivalent to the populations of the four largest cities outside of Chicago combined: Aurora, Rockford, Joliet and Naperville.
Due to Illinois’ domestic migration problem, the Land of Lincoln has been shrinking in population for four consecutive years. Only West Virginia has seen more consecutive years of population decline, with five. Meanwhile, none of Illinois’ neighboring states have experienced population decline since 2011, when Michigan saw a minor downturn.
While Illinois gained more then 47,200 people through natural growth (births minus deaths) and saw a net gain of 33,700 people from international migration over the year, those increases were wiped out by losses to other states. That caused the state’s population to shrink.
Illinois’ population loss was worse than any other state in raw numbers, and the third worst in percentage terms. It was enough to strip the Land of Lincoln of its title as the fifth-largest state, a spot that now belongs to Pennsylvania.
The continuing erosion of Illinois’ tax base is the state’s most pressing budget problem. For too many families, the high cost of government and the resulting laggard economy has made Illinois an unattractive place in which to plant roots.
State and local politicians must take aggressive action to rein in those costs. Even the fear of further tax hikes is enough to drive further outmigration, so time is of the essence.
Bringing fairness to the stacked deck of government worker union negotiations is one place to start. Government worker unions in Illinois currently have the power to hold taxpayers over a barrel, so it’s no wonder residents are stuck paying some of the nation’s highest property taxes.
At the same time, leaders must move to consolidate scores of Illinois governments. The Land of Lincoln is home to more taxing bodies than any other state, by far.
Further, passing a property tax freeze on homeowners’ actual bills (not just the levies of local governments) and requiring voter approval for property tax hikes are two powerful reforms that would go a long way for Illinois families dealing with stagnant incomes. After all, property taxes are the largest tax Illinoisans pay.
Rather than tackle any of these issues, Illinois lawmakers have instead opted for massive tax hikes with no reform. And local governments across the state are following suit.
Reforms to grow the state’s economy – rather than continuing to hit up tapped out residents – should be at the top of every lawmaker’s list of New Year’s resolutions.