Illinois losing residents 5 times faster than any neighbor state
Kentucky, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri are attracting residents while Iowa and Michigan are the only neighbor states losing residents to other states
It’s not the weather.
A record setting 141,656 Illinoisans fled to other states on net from July 2021-July 2022, according to estimates released Dec. 22 by the U.S. Census Bureau. While Illinoisans left the state in droves, neighboring Kentucky, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri each gained residents from other states, disproving the notion that the reason for Illinois’ population struggles are driven by the weather.
Iowa and Michigan also lost residents to other states, but at a far slower rate than Illinois. Illinois (-11.2 net outmigrants per 1,000 residents) is losing residents at a rate more than 13 times faster than Michigan (-0.8 net outmigrants per 1,000 residents) and nearly five times as fast as Iowa (-2.3 net outmigrants per 1,000 residents).
In total, Michigan lost 8,482 residents and Iowa lost 7,292 residents because of domestic outmigration in 2022. Meanwhile, Illinois lost 141,656 residents to other states.
Obviously, Illinois’ poor performance compared to neighboring states isn’t being driven by the climate. 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.