Cook County sees nation’s second-worst population decline of the decade

March 27, 2020

All Illinois-based metropolitan areas lost population for the second straight year

CHICAGO (March 26, 2020) – Chicago and its surrounding suburbs experienced some of the largest population declines over the decade. According to U.S. Census Bureau data released today, Cook County experienced the nation’s second-largest population decline, losing a total of 48,783 residents since 2010, in raw terms. Only Wayne County, Mich., suffered worse population decline.

New analysis from the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute shows this is the second straight year that all 10 metropolitan areas based primarily in Illinois lost population. From July 2018 to July 2019, the Chicago MSA, which includes Cook and 15 other surrounding counties, saw the third-largest raw decline in population of any metropolitan area in the nation, shrinking by more than 25,000 residents.

The two years of population decline across all Illinois’ metro areas occurred after the state’s record-breaking income tax hike in 2017. Institute research indicates these historic losses are primarily due to residents moving on net from Illinois to other states.

Illinois Policy Institute analysis:

  • Cook County saw the second-worst raw population loss during the decade. Since 2010, one person left the Chicago metro area every 7 and one-half minutes.
  • Raw population losses in Winnebago and St. Clair counties were among the nation’s top 20 worst during the decade. Alexander County experienced the second-worst percentage of population lost since 2010.
  • Of Illinois’ 102 counties, 93 of them shrank during the decade. From 2010 to 2019, only Kane, Kendall, Will, Champaign, DuPage, McLean, Monroe, Grundy and Williamson counties gained population.
  • In 2019, Cook County lost the nation’s second-most raw population, losing a total of 21,727 residents. Raw population losses in DuPage and Lake were among the top 20 worst counties in the nation last year.
  • Illinois is the primary home to 10 of 384 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, or MSAs, nationwide. From July 2018 to July 2019, all 10 shrank by a total of 34,044 people, the second year of recorded losses. The percentage of population losses in Danville and Decatur were among the nation’s top 10 worst during the decade.
  • Back in December, U.S. Census Bureau data revealed Illinois saw the worst population loss of any state during the decade, in raw terms. The state’s population declined by 168,700 people from 2010-2019, which is more than the population of Naperville, Illinois’ third-largest city.

Orphe Divounguy, chief economist for the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:

“The new U.S. Census data reveals the pain Illinoisans have felt during the past decade because of rising taxes, unstable budgets and increasing instances of corruption.

“The world is facing a public health crisis that’s sending shocks including a human and economic toll, the full extent of which remain unclear. Given the immediate crisis posed by COVID-19, lawmakers should focus their attention on preventing job losses and small business failures during the current lockdown.

“But when the public health threat subsides, lawmakers must ensure Illinois is in the best possible position to recover. Pursuing policies that do not counteract federal stimulus will be critical. At a time when everyone – businesses and individuals alike – are struggling financially, politicians should provide economic relief and avoid tax hikes that would stifle recovery.”