Outmigration fuels Madison, St. Clair County population dips in 2017

Outmigration fuels Madison, St. Clair County population dips in 2017

Madison and St. Clair counties both saw their populations decline from July 2016 to July 2017, thanks to outmigration – a problem the counties have been dealing with for years.

The Metro East region saw its population decline from July 2016 to July 2017, driven by people moving out.

On net, more than 1,300 people moved out of St. Clair County to other counties. And nearly 400 more people on net moved out of Madison County to other counties.

Both counties saw natural population gains from births outpacing deaths – and gained from international migration as well – but the large losses in domestic migration offset those gains, causing population loss.

St. Clair County’s population dipped 641 people, while Madison County’s dropped by 170 people. Outmigration to other counties is a continuing trend in the Metro East region – from 2010-2017, more than 22,000 on net left both counties combined.

Through much of that time, Missouri – the closest state to which Metro East taxpayers could flee – benefitted. Over the past decade, Illinois lost 20 people to Missouri per day.

Population losses in the Metro East reflect trends statewide. Illinois has seen population loss for four consecutive years.

And as in the rest of the state, tax hikes placed heavy burdens on Metro East residents – who have seen dramatically slow income growth relative to state spending – in 2011 and 2017. This is on top of paying property taxes much higher than the median bill in the state, and the threat of new tax hikes always looming, though soundly unwelcomed.

If state and local officials care about retaining residents and making sure the Metro East thrives, they need to reject new tax hikes and roll back past ones. But despite the 32 percent income tax hike in 2017, some lawmakers are already eager to raise rates again. House Bill 3522, a progressive tax proposal, would hike income taxes on Illinoisans earning as little as $17,300 a year. This would be disastrous for a region like the Metro East, where residents can easily flee across the border.

Both state and local governments need to get serious about the exodus of Illinoisans. Reforming out-of-control spending and lowering the state’s crippling tax burden would help keep residents not just in Metro East, but statewide.

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