Illinois population loss drops it to 6th-most populous state

Illinois population loss drops it to 6th-most populous state

Illinois was the nation’s fifth-largest state until 2020 census data was released. Now Pennsylvania’s population exceeds Illinois’ to take the No. 5 spot.

Illinois is now the nation’s sixth-most populous state, being surpassed by Pennsylvania official 2020 census figures released April 26 showed. While the U.S. Census Bureau previously estimated Pennsylvania’s population exceeded Illinois’ in 2017, the official census count confirmed there are more Pennsylvanians than Illinoisans.

Illinois was not the only large state whose rank changed after 2020 census counts were revealed. Florida surpassed New York as the nation’s third-most populous state, while Georgia and North Carolina both jumped Michigan to become the nation’s eighth- and ninth-most populous states, respectively. Michigan is now ranked No. 10.

Illinois for the first time in 200 years lost population in the decennial U.S. Census count. However, the decline doesn’t just affect the ranking and federal dollars that will be allocated to the state, it also affects the number of U.S. representatives that will be sent to Congress from Illinois. Illinois will see its representatives drop from 18 to 17 for the 2023-2033 Congressional terms.

Illinois’ influence in the U.S. House of Representatives has been in steady decline. It had 27 representatives in 1933 and will have 17 in 2023.

The loss of a congressional seat and the delay of census numbers because of COVID-19 leaves aspiring candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in a difficult situation because district boundaries may not be drawn with much time before candidate filing deadlines.

Congressional redistricting is especially strict, requiring districts as close to equal in population as practical, meaning there is virtually no way to draw districts without the official census numbers. Candidates cannot know what the districts will look like until after the Illinois General Assembly passes a map and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs it into law.

Because the detailed numbers are not expected to be available until late summer, candidates will be scrambling to gather the required signatures to meet the Nov. 29 filing deadline under the current election code.

No one will know which representative’s district will be eliminated, though with supermajorities in the Illinois House, Illinois Senate and control of the governor’s office, it is a safe bet Democrats will target a Republican-held seat. That is, unless Pritzker follows through on his promise to veto any partisan, gerrymandered map.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!