White, Black communities lead Illinois’ population decline; Hispanic, Asian communities growing

White, Black communities lead Illinois’ population decline; Hispanic, Asian communities growing

Illinois’ Hispanic population is growing the most while the Asian population growing the fastest.

Illinois’ population declined by 32,826 from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023. The decline was led by the loss of 63,936, or 0.9%, white Illinoisans and 10,013, or 0.6%, Black Illinoisans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the population of Illinois’ Hispanic and Asian communities continues to grow, helping to offset some of the declines from other groups. Illinois’ Hispanic population added 22,866, or 1.0% residents, while the Asian population grew by 12,345, or 1.6%. Other populations, including those of two or more races, added 5,912 residents.

Since the most recent Census in April 2020, the Hispanic community has grown by 46,916, or 2.0%, and the Asian community has grown by 21,948, or 2.9%, in Illinois. The white population has declined by 297,979, or 3.9%, and the Black population has declined by 48,903, or 2.7%. Other populations, including those of two or more races, grew by 14,238 during that time.

National data shows that the surge in Hispanic residents is primarily driven by higher birth rates among the Hispanic community. Nationally, there were 722,000 more births than deaths in the Hispanic community in 2023. International migration also contributes to the growth in the Hispanic population, adding more than 437,000 residents nationally in 2023 alone.

While data on the sources of Illinois’ population growth by demographic group in 2023 was not made available by the U.S. Census Bureau, previous analysis found that Illinois was losing residents of all backgrounds to domestic outmigration. In other words, growth in Illinois’ Hispanic and Asian populations is likely attributable to natural increases, which are births minus deaths, and international migration.

The data released today also includes information on the change in population by age group. The data reveal that Illinois’ largest population declines are occurring among those under 18 years of age and those between the ages of 45 and 64. The population under age 18 shrank by 46,513, 1.7%, from 2022-2023, while the population ages 45-64 shrank by 40,386, 1.3%. The largest group to see an increase in population was those age 65 and older, which added 58,832, or 2.7%, residents.

Since April of 2020, Illinois’ population under age 18 has plummeted by 177,263, or 6.1%, and the population ages 45-64 has dropped by 163,081, or 4.9%. Meanwhile, the age 65 and older population has increased by 157,498, or 7.7%.

The data reflect two trends: Illinois’– along with the entire nation’s – population is aging and Illinois’ outmigration crisis is exacerbating these changes. The U.S. and Illinois median age both increased by 0.2 years in 2023, climbing to 39.4 years in Illinois and 39.1 years across the nation.

While the population changes by age trends in the U.S. and Illinois are similar in terms of directionality, Illinois is experiencing more substantial shifts in its age profile. For example, Illinois' under 18 population shrank by 1.7% in 2023, while the US under 18 population shrank by 0.5%, meaning Illinois' youth population decline was more than triple the U.S. Similarly, the population ages 45-64 declined by 0.6% nationally, but declined by 1.3% in Illinois, more than double the rate of decline. On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois' age 65 and older population grew slower than the US, up 2.7% vs 3.1% respectively.

These differences are likely due to outmigration trends seen in Illinois as retirees and younger families are moving out of the state on net. So, while changes in Illinois’ median age might be closely tracking the national figures today, the state’s population changes are far different than what the nation as a whole is experiencing and more concerning.

First, Illinois’ population is in decline while the U.S. population continues to increase. While both populations are aging, Illinois’ decline comes entirely from domestic outmigration, as more Illinoisans leave the state than move in from other states.

Domestic migration is also driving another key difference: The segments of the population which are shrinking do so far faster in Illinois, while the segments of the population that are growing do so slower in Illinois.

The rapid decline in Illinois’ younger population groups paired with the growth in the state’s population age 65 and older mean Illinois’ population will begin to age much more rapidly than the rest of the nation if these trends continue.

As the current and future workforce populations are in decline, and at a far faster rate than the rest of the nation, Illinois’ labor market and economy can be expected to lag the rest of the nation. This carries negative implications for the state’s long-term liabilities like pensions, which rely on economic growth and tax revenues to continue to be paid. The reduction in future growth prospects increases the likelihood that tax rates will need to be raised to produce the required revenues.

With such a widespread population crisis and important implications for the future health of the state’s finances and economy, it is imperative we recognize the reason for the decline. Statewide, population decline continues to be driven exclusively by domestic outmigration – residents leaving for other states.

Of the Illinoisans who left the state on net, 97% moved to lower-tax states in 2022 – the most recent data available.  Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason Illinoisans considered moving out. Polling from NPR Illinois and the University of Illinois found 61% of Illinoisans thought about moving out of state in 2019, and the No. 1 reason was taxes. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found 47% of Illinoisans wanted to leave the state in 2016. It also found “taxes are the single biggest reason people want to leave,” with 27% citing that motive. The Lincoln Poll conducted for the Illinois Policy Institute in 2023 substantiated these sentiments.

Even when taxes were not a response option, surveys of those who have left the state showed the major reasons were for better housing and employment opportunities. Both have been made worse by poor public policy in Illinois.

The decline in every age group population under age 65 since 2020 should show how pressing this crisis has become and spur state leaders to begin working on solutions, starting with reigning in Illinois’ cumbersome tax environment. Without changes, these trends will quickly escalate Illinois’ population crisis.

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