Illinois loses 113,776 people in 2021 as those moving out accelerates

December 21, 2021

New Census data shows record outmigration of residents is driving population decline

PRESS RELEASE from the
ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE

CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Illinois loses 113,776 people in 2021 as those moving out accelerates
New Census data shows record outmigration of residents is driving population decline 

CHICAGO (Dec. 21, 2021) – As Illinois begins a new decade, the state’s population saw record decline of 113,776 people, driven entirely by residents leaving the state.

According to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois lost more people than live in the state’s capital of Springfield from July 2020 to July 2021. The loss was mainly from an estimated 122,460 people moving out of Illinois.

Despite a higher-than-expected 2020 Census count, analysis from the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute found 2021 marks the largest number of Illinoisans leaving for other states in history.

“The pandemic may have exacerbated Illinois’ problem of population loss. High housing costs and a decline in the quality of services, coupled with a high tax burden as compared to quality of life in other states, have forced many families to make the hard choice to leave,” said Bryce Hill, senior research analyst for the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. “As the number of the residents living and working in the state goes down, that leaves fewer residents on the hook to pay for government services, pension debt and the state budget – possibly driving taxes higher if the state doesn’t rein in spending.”

Illinois ranked second-worst in the nation for both population loss and outmigration by percentage of population, after New York, and third-worst for population loss and outmigration in raw decline, following only New York and California.

“It is noteworthy that Illinois’ economic recovery from the pandemic has lagged the national average, with a worse unemployment rate and many industries not back to pre-pandemic hiring levels. Other more affordable and business-friendly states are near or above pre-pandemic employment levels. Americans move where they find the best job opportunities and feel the most security for themselves and their families,” Hill added.

An Illinois Policy Institute analysis also finds:

  • The states that grew the most in total population are Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. The states that grew the most by percentage are Idaho, Utah, Montana, Arizona and South Carolina.
  • This marks the eighth consecutive year Census estimates have predicted population decline. Only West Virginia has suffered a longer streak of population decline at 9 consecutive years.
  • In 2021, Illinois lost one person every 4 minutes 18 seconds to other states on net.

To read the full Census analysis, visit illin.is/2021Census.

For bookings or interviews, contact media@illinoispolicy.org or (312) 607-4977.