Between 2014 and 2015, more than 9,000 black residents left Cook County, and since 2010, the Chicago area, which for the census includes parts of Indiana and Wisconsin, has lost more than 35,000 black residents. The exodus is greater than in any other metropolitan area in the country.
“I have very little desire to return to the city,” said Roosevelt Johnson, 47, who moved to Lake County 10 years ago when he first saw the writing on the wall: limited services on the South Side, where he grew up, and unaffordable housing on the North Side, where he later moved. “It became a rat race of having to try to get from Point A to Point B with raising our family. Making sure everyone is in the place they need to be, despite escalating costs. It became too much for us to handle.”
Chicago itself lost 181,000 black residents between 2000 and 2010, according to census data. The numbers are indicative of a larger pattern of Illinois’ general population loss, which dropped by 22,194 residents between 2014 and 2015. The Chicago metropolitan statistical area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the city and suburbs that extend into Wisconsin and Indiana, lost an estimated 6,263 residents between 2014 and 2015, the area’s first population dip since at least 1990. […]
Census numbers also show that African-Americans continue to move to the suburbs, a pattern that slowly began in the 1970s, when manufacturing jobs started to dry up, and picked up in the 2000s. Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, director of research and evaluation at the Chicago Urban League, said suburbs in DuPage and Kane counties have better housing and job opportunities, citing the Interstate 88 business corridor in DuPage.
“They’ve got lower taxes, more job opportunities, maybe better-funded school districts. All of those things are available in Cook County, too, but not as strongly,” she said.