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Study: Decatur ranked just above Detroit in growth

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2015

* From WalletHub

In 2014, the U.S. recorded its lowest population gain since the Great Depression. Growth stood at .73 percent, largely in contrast with the 5 percent of the 1990s, a period of prosperity. Demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution attributed the decline to the economic downturn. Not only did the crisis deter job-seeking migrants from flocking to the U.S., but it also discouraged couples from having children. Meanwhile, population numbers shifted across states, creating short- and long-term effects on local economies.

In order to identify the cities that have expanded most rapidly in socioeconomic terms between 2008 and 2014, WalletHub compared 515 U.S. cities of varying sizes across 10 key metrics, ranging from population growth to unemployment rate decrease. The results of our study, as well as additional insight from experts and a detailed methodology, can be found below.

The highest ranking Illinois city was Elgin, at 211th Aurora at 187th [thanks to a commenter for pointing out my mistake].


Bloomington was ranked 270th, Naperville tied for 336th, Peoria ranked 372nd and Chicago ranked 379th.

Illinois had two cities in the bottom ten, Skokie was 508th and Decatur ranked 510th, just a sinlge notch above Detroit.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dudeman - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:37 am:

    Correction: Aurora was 187th

  2. - AC - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:37 am:

    Lots of sunshine in the high growth cities, Texas and California both doing very well despite very different politics.

  3. - Georg Sande - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:38 am:

    After watching Senate President Cullerton on “Chicago Tonight” last evening deny there is any exodus, whatsoever, occurring from Illinois now, I am certain he can explain away or outright deny this bad news too. #Waiting

  4. - Name Withheld - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    Springfield, IL - 460th

  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:46 am:


    1980 11,426,518 2.8%
    1990 11,430,602 0.0%
    2000 12,419,293 8.6%
    2010 12,830,632 3.3%
    2014 12,880,580 0.4%

    /yawn, population growth was zero from 1980-1990 during Big Jim’s and Saint Reagan’s reign.

  6. - A Jack - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:46 am:

    Yet Decatur doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad off as Detroit.

    And it does have several industries that currently don’t have viable foreign competitors, unlike Detroit’s auto industry.

  7. - SimeonLee - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:48 am:

    Champaign is tied for 259th.

  8. - Greatplainser - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:48 am:

    Rockford was the fifth worst city in the country. (Mid sized city)

  9. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:51 am:

    U.S. population has been shifting south and west since WWII.

    I blame Dwight Green.

    Cahokia used to be the largest city in what are now the United States and Canada.

    I blame Madigan for its decline.

  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:52 am:

    Miami, FL at number 17 is baffling considering that it is likely to be underwater in the next 50 years.

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:54 am:

    ==Yet Decatur doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad off as Detroit==

    Decatur used to be one of the larger cities in the State, and has been disappearing for decades. It’s decline hasn’t been as quick as Detroits, but it’s bad. Very bad.

  12. - Tone - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Did Cullerton really deny that Illinois has abysmal population growth? The state was one of only three in 2014 to lose population. The public employee unions and their grotesque benefits are sucking the state dry. People are fleeing, the state has lost jobs three months in a row. What the does Mr. Cullerton need to see to be convinced that state of Illinois needs massive reform?

  13. - Tone - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    Illinois is a great place, but our politics are awful. Both Democrats and Republicans have driven the state into the ground. I guess that is our fault as citizens of the state, but it is now time to change. Rauner is attempting to right the ship. The sooner we get to it, the better.

  14. - Phil - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    @ anonymous - It’s only baffling because people (and elected officials) in Florida and Miami are in a denial about what the future holds for the state and for Miami.

  15. - Anonin' - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    Fascinating …btw same outfit did survey on teachers…IL scored 11 — not the hell hole everyone at TeamBungle wants us to be. The “scoring” is an interesting hodge podge and worth a look
    Socio-Demographic Landscape - Total Points: 50
    •Population Growth: Full Weight (~16.7 points)
    •Working-Age Population Growth (“working-age population” includes ages 16 to 64): Full Weight (~16.7 points)
    •Poverty Rate Decrease: Full Weight (~16.7 points)

    Jobs & Economic Environment - Total Points: 50
    •Median Household Income Growth: Full Weight (~7.7 points)
    •Unemployment Rate Decrease: Full Weight (~7.7 points)
    •Job Growth: Full Weight (~7.7 points)
    •Ratio of Full-Time to Part-Time Jobs Increase: Half Weight (~3.8 points)
    •Growth of Regional GDP per Capita: Full Weight (~7.7 points)
    •Growth in the Number of Businesses: Full Weight (~7.7 points)
    •Growth of Median House Prices: Full Weight (~7.7 points)

  16. - Downstate - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    Decatur’s challenge is one of reputation. Union led strikes and Jesse Jackson protests left an indelible stain that hurts.

    Businesses across the nation simply don’t EVER put Decatur on their short list for expansion.

    Illinois is quickly getting a similar reputation. One of the top national blogs (no offense, Rich) had an item today on Illinois not paying lottery winners.

    It doesn’t matter what reality is - Perception is Reality.

    Illinois needs a major reboot, or we will continue to suffer from our reputation as “business unfriendly”.

  17. - St. Louis Bob - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:06 am:

    I love to see articles that talk about the Texas and North Dakata miracle economies. This article is more of the same. They seem to miss the fact that the rest of us were paying $4.00/gallon for gasoline during those boom times. Let’s see how fast those cities grow when gas is at $2.00/gallon.

  18. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    === The public employee unions and their grotesque benefits ===

    What makes the benefits grotesque? Would they still be grotesque if you had them?

  19. - The Dude Abides - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Congrats Tone, so far you are the frontrunner for the most ridiculous post of the day. As posted previously, during the booming 1980’s of the Reagan era, Illinois population was static. As Word said, the population is shifting in the US to the warmer climates. We have an aging baby boomer generation and as folks get older they gravitate to the warmer climates.

  20. - Carhartt Representative - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    =Did Cullerton really deny that Illinois has abysmal population growth? The state was one of only three in 2014 to lose population. The public employee unions and their grotesque benefits are sucking the state dry. People are fleeing, the state has lost jobs three months in a row. What the does Mr. Cullerton need to see to be convinced that state of Illinois needs massive reform?=

    They’re fleeing for places with friendlier business climates like California and Washington where there are no public employees to suck the state dry.

  21. - Dudeman - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    This data shows that Texas is doing something that makes cities economies and populations grow. 14 of the top 20 are Texas cities. The two Illinois cities doing the best are generally doing well due to cannibalization of wealth and population from Chicago to the suburbs.
    Just ask yourself do I want to live in (add city) Illinois and raise my kids and start a business? A lot of people are saying no. I personally know several that took their family and business to Texas. I’m stuck here, otherwise I’d consider moving also.

  22. - Button is broke... - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    It seems that everyone says Indiana is great and we need to be more like them. Their highest city is ranked 119th (Fishers). So it isn’t like they are going gang busters. It seems to be more regional than state by state differences. Maybe we are doing worse on average than other Midwestern states, but it isn’t like our neighbors are doing great. I think this points to the main causes being something other than state policy. (Obviously state policy could still affect things at the margins.)

  23. - Ghost - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    wait, we let the tax hike expire i thought that was supposed to cause a tsunami of jobs…..

    so lets just star bond all of decatur…..

  24. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:20 am:


    Tip of hat on Cahokia;) Monk’s Mound was probably the highest “skyscraper” then too!

  25. - Otto Didact - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    Parts of Decatur look worse than Detroit.

    Many formerly populated blocks are now mostly vacant lots polluted with weeds and trash/debris/junk vehicles/ junk abandoned appliances among other nasty garbage.

    There are literally dozens of abandoned structures in need of demolition…while others continue to deteriorate concurrently.

    The jerks with 10,000 watt window rattling auto “noise machines” have returned to the streets seemingly unabated.

    Decatur’s streets are dangerously decrepit…as well as a failing sewer system…the list could go on and on not unlike Detroit…at all.

    Take a walk down any inner city street after dark…but…be ready to run in a zig-zag pattern…to avoid stray gunfire that residents hear on a weekly basis…and zig when you should zag at your own peril.

    One notch is not too far from the same.

    Which way do notches usually fall?…up?

    Decatur Limitless is waiting on Governor Rauner for help.


    Mayday…I say again…Mayday!

    Rescue your favorite City?

  26. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:30 am:

    “Decatur’s challenge is one of reputation”

    I would have to agree. I’ve spent a lot of time over there in recent years with my family and there are a lot of “hidden gems” in the community (Scovill Zoo, Children’s Museum, Lake Decatur, downtown shopping area, nature centers, historic homes, etc.) There’s also a more thriving arts and music scene than one would expect. Yes, the city’s obviously seen better days in the past but it’s not the post-industrial hellhole some make it out to be.

  27. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:33 am:

    And yes, there are plenty of bad neighborhoods in Decatur as there are in other cities. I’m just saying there’s more to the city than that.

  28. - Beaner - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    The introduction of residential air conditioning in the 1920s helped enable the great migration to the Sun Belt in the United States.

    “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrel Huff 1954.

  29. - Tone - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:35 am:

    Sad to see all the head in the sand comments about Illinois.

  30. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    None of these numbers should ever justify rebuilding an economy and state by stripping away workers’ rights, pushing down wages and benefits for thousands of workers, taking away health insurance for hundreds of thousands, etc.

    Illinois has been built and has prospered as a higher-wage state. This is the path we should strive to follow, as private and public individuals and groups.

  31. - Tone - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    The two Illinois cities doing the best are generally doing well due to cannibalization of wealth and population from Chicago to the suburbs.

    Actually, Chicago is doing better than most of the State. It’s fastest growing population is high income and highly educated people. The population of Chicago is up about 30K from the last census. In 2010, 18.7% of Chicago households had incomes of $100K+ in 2014 it was 22%. The fastest declines are poor and lower households who continue flee.

  32. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    ==there are a lot of “hidden gems” in the community ==

    You Comsat that about virtually any cut central to a metro area. Even Detroit. But a few pockets here and there doesn’t change the overall picture that it is, in fact, a hellhole.

  33. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:47 am:

    “Can say” not “Comsat”

  34. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    “Just ask yourself do I want to live in (add city) Illinois and raise my kids and start a business? A lot of people are saying no. I personally know several that took their family and business to Texas. I’m stuck here, otherwise I’d consider moving also.”

    Spent most of the last two weeks downstate in places like B-N, Champaign-Urbana, and surrounding communities.

    We’ve got a whole new class of potential employees (and future business startups) and you can see the race for internships and potential employees already starting. And it’s literally only a month into the new school year.

    And guess what - most of the recruiting isn’t happening from Illinois. We do a great job of educating the workforce - we’re just not keeping those folks here.

    The ’status quo’ in Illinois isn’t working for us. It’s working against us. You can blame the weather all you want, but if there were jobs here in IL, we’d be keeping many of those graduates who are currently going elsewhere (or planning to).

    We’re eating our own seed corn. Or more appropriately, we’re shipping it out of state to be consumed elsewhere.

    It was very discouraging to talk to the next generation and finding out that in way too many cases, their plans for the future don’t include Illinois. Except for a few visits. Too many just don’t see a future here. Very discouraging.

    Illinois state government is in dire need of reform. And that doesn’t mean “more laws”. It means “operate smarter” - and maybe “fewer laws”. Doing business the way it’s always been done just isn’t working for us.

  35. - Tone - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    Indiana is a dump.

  36. - nixit71 - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    @Grandson - In a perfect world, yes. But much like other rust-belt states, Illinois’ prosperity happened during a different era. You say “stripping away workers’rights and pushing down wages”, which is a bit extreme (granted, Rauner has taken the other extreme side of that argument). But we need to re-think how these elements scale in the 21st century. 20th century platitudes aren’t going to cut it.

    At the end of the day, someone has to pay the bill. Not only are people leaving the state, but they are being replaced by less people making even less money. That means an ever increasing tax burden for those who remain. That is not the path anyone should strive for.

  37. - Striketoo - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    Unions represent about 16% of all workers. The 1% represents 1% of the population. The Democrats will do anything to protect the interests of the 16% and the Republicans will do anything to protect the interests of the 1%. No one, and I mean no one, seems interested in doing anything to protect the 83%. The state of Illinois is being destroyed to protect the interests of 17% of its population.

  38. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 11:49 am:

    The Capitol of Illinois was not too far ahead (460) of Decatur & Detroit. Good thing our legislature wants business as usual since things are going so great here.

    If things don’t change soon Illinois is going to have some very significant problems from people leaving the state (this has already been a big problem, but it will get worse).

    This is why the Governor’s turn-around message is winning in the polls. People might not like every single issue, but by in large they are so fed up with our state they want to see significant change and if the legislature is viewed as the obstructionist, then they will be blamed. Unfortunately, due to the legislative maps, our elections are rigged and the will of the people will be subverted.

    Although maybe our household is the only one feeling hopeless and that our families best options are in a different state.

  39. - Leading InDecatur - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    Lots of solid blue collar jobs shipped to Mexico and China have hurt Decatur and helped some stockholders elsewhere. My kid received a full tuition scholarship in Missouri, as have many of my students. My kid earned a Master’s degree and has no plans to return to Illinois. Making it even harder for the middle class won’t bring her and her contemporaries back. It could be so different if corporations still felt some measure of responsibility to the workers who help them thrive, and a bit less to the stock holders who buy and sell based on rumor and innuendo with no sense of responsibility. The capitalism of the 50s and 60s seems a lot different than that of the 80s to now.
    Lunch is over…back to work.

  40. - Keyser Soze - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 12:37 pm:

    What have the players in Washington done to enhance our national prosperity?

  41. - lost in the weeds - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 12:48 pm:

    Midwest not doing well on jobs.

  42. - Tournaround Agenda - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 12:56 pm:

    I see a lot of cries for “reform” in the comments here, but like the governor, nobody ever really seems to elucidate on what reforms exactly are needed, and what kind of impact they’ll really have on the economy.

    I don’t think destroying organized labor is really the panacea to economic growth, if Wisconsin’s sluggish growth under Walker is any example.

    I think introducing some stability in place of the chaos we have now would go a long way to improving the economy. The credit agencies certainly see no reason to recommend investing in an Illinois that has a massive unfunded pension liability, can’t even pass a budget and has a major revenue problem.

  43. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 1:22 pm:

    ==our elections are rigged and the will of the people will be subverted==

    Subverted how? Subverted because you don’t like who is being elected? So that makes our elections subversive? Nonsense.

  44. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 1:41 pm:

    Illinois has been slowly growing. No one should expect either boom times, or down times.

    The reason people live in Illinois is to make money. We’re not here for he beaches, the mountains, the mild winters or summers. So, if we don’t have jobs to pay our bills, we will be moving.

    Comparing us to other states is almost interesting if it meant anything important, but it doesn’t.

  45. - Anon - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 1:54 pm:

    Some of WalletHub’s stuff is less than impressive.
    First of all, the statement about 5% population growth in the ’90s is absurd. It was slightly over 1%. And 0.73% growth is still 2.3 million people a year.
    If you look at the methodology, more than half of the index comes directly from population growth. Their premise seems to be that if your town grows from 25,000 residents to 50,000, you’re a lot better off. Some would debate that.

  46. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 2:18 pm:

    .73%=2.3 million. Maybe we all need math class.

  47. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Sep 29, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    Never mind.i need reading class.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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