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Fingers point over continued Chicago population loss

Thursday, May 25, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

Chicago lost population for the third year in a row last year, the only one of the nation’s top 20 municipalities to hold that streak.

According to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the decline of 8,638 in the year ended June 30, 2016, was rather small, just 0.3 percent of the total population. But combined with other Census data, the figures suggest that while the city is adding Asians, Latinos and whites, African-Americans continue to depart in large numbers, perhaps propelled by better job prospects and safer communities elsewhere. […]

According to the new estimates, Cook County, too, has lost people for three years, and at a faster rate: down about 21,000, or 0.4 percent in the past year. DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties also saw their populations dip, as did Cook suburbs including Arlington Heights, Evanston, Schaumburg, Skokie and Tinley Park. […]

And cities on the edge of the metro area that saw strong population gains prior to the sub-prime mortgage recession have been able to regain just a fraction of their prior magic. For instance, Naperville, Joliet and Elgin in the last year saw gains of just 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent.

* Tribune

Chicago’s population plunge continues to be a result, mostly, of losing residents to other states. About 89,547 residents left Chicago and its surrounding suburbs for other states in 2016, a number that couldn’t be offset by new residents and births, according to an analysis of census data released in March. The number of people leaving the Chicago region is the highest since at least 1990.

More than any other city, Chicago has depended on Mexican immigrants to balance the slow growth of its native-born population. During the 1990s, immigration accounted for most of Chicago’s growth. After 2007, when Mexican-born populations began to fall across the nation’s major metropolitan areas, most cities managed to make up for the loss with the growth of their native populations. Chicago couldn’t.

The entire Midwest has been losing residents, census data show. Detroit lost 3,541 residents from 2015 to 2016, and Milwaukee lost 4,366. But job and business opportunities are still stronger in neighboring Midwestern states than in Illinois, sending more Chicagoans to other parts of the Midwest than vice versa, experts said.

The greatest number of Illinois residents in recent years went to Texas, followed by Florida, Indiana, California and Arizona, according to 2013 Internal Revenue Service migration data.

* Finger-pointing via DNAInfo Chicago

Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office suggest political factors might be related to the population issues.

“Chicago’s population grew each of the first three years the mayor was in office, but since taking office the governor has driven uncertainty in every corner of the state, and Chicago has not been immune from the effects,” mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman said. “The fact that the State of Illinois is leading the nation in population loss and the loss of college students is a direct result of a lack of leadership by Governor Rauner and the instability he has created.”

Eleni Demertzis, spokeswoman for Rauner, pointed to some factors specific to Chicago.

“Let’s review what’s happened in Chicago the past two years under Mayor Emanuel: The city’s property taxes and fees have skyrocketed; it has surging violence; and it has threatened to close schools due to decades of fiscal mismanagement,” she said.

So, the governor’s office finally admits that a top dog can make matters much worse over the course of two short years?

Not a good move.


  1. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    It’s very sad that our political leadership apparently has very little regard for our african american residents. Chicago’s population drop is due entirely to african americans fleeing high crime segregated areas and low opportunity in the region.

  2. - blue dog dem - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    Ron. It looks like Chicago is dying. Contrast this to downstate Monroe County. 3.4% population increase. Twelfth lowest poverty rate in the entire USA. Waterloo, the county seat, one of the safest places to live in the WORLD. Earlier in the week I chided you to have Chicago provide the answers to our states woes….but me thinks I have found a new leader.

  3. - cdog - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    The numbers would be even worse if Chicago didn’t have the welcome sign out to non-citizens.

    I guess the city’s blatant disregard for the rule of immigration law has it’s advantages.

  4. - Loop Lady - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    Bruce: stop pointing fingers and deflecting…

    Do your part to pass a budget…

    I am leaving IL/Chicago metro area when I fully retire…

    It’s a mess here and not worth putting up with high property taxes, gridlock, poverty, and violence…

  5. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    The fastest growing demographic in Chicago is the $100,000+ household and the highly educated. The city is losing lower income residents african american residents.

    Whites, hispanics and asians are all growing in the city.

  6. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    Chicago is seeing a large increase in highly educated and high earning households. The fastest growing income group is the +$100,000 household in the City. Every ethnic group but african americans are growing or stable population wise.

  7. - Michael Westen - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    What is Rauner’s reasoning as to why people left Republican run DuPage, Lake, Mchenry counties as well as Arlington Heights and Schaumburg. Is that Rahm’s fault too?

  8. - blue dog dem - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    …is that taps playing in the background?

  9. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    Michael, I didn’t realize that McHenry, Du Page and Lake have all been losing population. Not good.

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    – It looks like Chicago is dying.–

    Must be a buyers’ market for real estate. Give it a try.

    Price yourself a one bedroom condo on the West Side where McDonalds Corp. is locating. That ain’t Gold Coast or Lincoln Park, that used to be Skid Row.

    Then compare that with the amount of house you could get for the same price in booming Monroe County.

    Chicago definitely is changing. Younger, wealthier, whiter. It’s an expensive place to live. The loss of low-income housing has been quite dramatic the last 15 years or so. Remember all those CHA towers? Where do you think those folks went? River North and Streeterville?

  11. - Steve - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    It’s pretty funny that Rahm would try to blame Rauner for Chicago’s population loss. Who’s to blame for Chicago’s 2000 to 2010 population loss of 200,000? George W. Bush? Republican party dominance in Chicago? Why are other cities growing but not Chicago???

  12. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    Steve, Chicago’s black politicians have completely failed at helping their constituents.

    Crime and lack of opportunity are the problem in those communities. And wordslinger is correct, the top performing real estate markets in the state are where?


  13. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    From the Crains article:

    According to Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council, while the degree of black flight from the city has slowed some this decade, it’s still averaging about 12,000 a year, based on data from the American Community Survey, also issued by the Census Bureau. Blacks leaving Cook County tended to move either to northwest Indiana or farther out in the metro area, or to Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Fort Worth, Indianapolis or Milwaukee, in that order of popularity of destinations.

    The same data show the population of whites, Latinos and people of Asian heritage growing, he said.

  14. - Bogey Golfer - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    =The greatest number of Illinois residents in recent years went to Texas, followed by Florida, Indiana, California and Arizona.= All but Indiana are warm weather states. Texas and Florida residents pay no state income tax. While the City is attracting Millennials, the Baby Boomers in the City and ‘burbs are headed south. And the migration will continue for the next 10-15 years.

  15. - Roman - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    - Ron - and - wordslinger - are right.

    Trying to reduce this to a partisan talking point misses the real news.

    Chicago is losing poor residents and African-Americans to the suburbs and elsewhere, while gaining wealthier residents. This the exact opposite of demographic trends that shaped the city from the end of World War II until the late 1980’s.

    There are a lot of reasons for this, but the trend was given a solid nudge by the policies of the Daley administration: tearing down CHA high rises, disinvestment in neighborhood schools in favor of magnets and charters, TIF subsidies for high-end residential development around downtown, and infrastructure investment in and around downtown.

  16. - Former IL Resident - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    ==It’s an expensive place to live.==

    I guess it’s all relative, but for a big city, Chicago is actually a relatively cheap place to live. As someone who has lived in quite a few large cities/metro areas (as well as in some smaller “hot” markets), I’m always surprised at how affordable housing is in prime locations in Chicago.

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Former IL Resident is correct. You can’t compare a podunk dump to Chicago. Of course it’s cheap to live in Alabama. There is little demand and lots of supply. The house I live in Chicago would easily cost 2, 3 or even 4 times in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, DC.

  18. - California Guy - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Chicago is definitely an affordable big City. That’s what makes Chicago so great for millennials. What may first appear as ridiculous downtown rents are actually pretty good when compared to other big cities (New York, SF, Los Angeles, etc.).

    Chicago is a classic tale of two cities with the addition of a failing State. Outsiders that come to visit are fascinated by how clean and well kept the urban center is. The problem is when you venture outside the loop/north side and things get progressively worse.

    These young millennials making good money are great for the City. The problem is that they’re surrounded by so much decline.

  19. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    With all that wealth. With all those Progressives, i am shocked that Chicago residents are not demanding a city earnings tax to help out CPS, UIC and social services. What am I missing?

  20. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:38 am:

    ==The house I live in Chicago would easily cost 2, 3 or even 4 times in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, DC.==

    Heck, look at prices in some smaller “hot” markets like Austin and Nashville..

  21. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    Chicago has never really been a particularly progressive city. More of a give me mine union town.

    The city would kill itself by over taxing the people that are propping it up. As it is, the vast majority of real estate taxes come from downtown and the northside.

  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    And Austin may be one of the most overrated places in America! It’s a Texas Schaumburg with a university.

  23. - Mike Cirrincione - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    There is a one bigly advantage that the Upper Midwest has.

    Its called a water supply.

    And IT IS something the entire Midwest region needs to think about and protect.

    The only thing that matters to Governor Duck Tape is makin’ TV commercials and blamin’ Madigan.

  24. - resistanceisfutile - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Something has not been mentioned in this conversation. For many lower-middle-class and relatively well off members of the trades, the loss of African-Americans from Chicago is not a bug, but a feature. Back in the 1990s they looked to Richard M. Daley as a protector of the Whites, and I heard many terribly racist jokes that featured ways Mayor Daley could get Blacks to leave the city. Then along came the CHA Plan for Tranformation, and they got their wish. As former residents of the family high-rises washed into relatively stable but modest-income neighborhoods the crime rates went up, and the African American families that could move, did move. To some extent this helped local suburbs answer the question, “Who will live in our houses?” after the big factories shut down. But that is not all. At the came time the CHA found 100,000 people were “lost to follow-up,” the Housing Authority of Cook County added about 100,000 new voucher recipients. Glenwood, Markham, Calumet City, Matteson, Park Forest, Olypia Fields, Richton Park, University Park, and other suburbs didn’t just receive the middle-class emigrants from Chicago, they received quite a few people who had adapted to a ’street mentality’ from decades in the high-rise projects. While the suburbs around Chicago continue to reel from the consequences, for the Whites on the northwest and southwest sides of the city this was a *victory.*

    But that’s not all. At the same time, Daley the Younger made Chicago a more difficult and expensive place to live for anyone who was not one of the well-heeled new class of the moneyed service professionals. They say that in America everyone is free, and if you have no money you are free to stay home. This used to not be true about Chicago. As late as the 1980s regular working folks could make use of free public facilities to make it easier to raise their kids. But ever since the mid-1990s fees have been placed on more and more amenities, and the fees in place have gone up and up. This clears the ‘riff-raff’ from spaces the service professionals would like to enjoy without having to interact with people of other social classes, but it makes the city increasingly unpleasant for everyone else.

    The combination has been devastating, particularly for African-Americans in Chicago, but also for any other regular working folks who have too much income for various forms of public assistance, but too poor to pay the mass of fees that hit them every time they turn around.

    There are not enough well-heeled service sector professionals to stabilize the population and income of a city as large as Chicago, particularly when there are other cities in direct competition for the same demographic category. If Chicago cannot find anything else to anchor its economic base, there may be sector by the Lakefront that continues to glitter, but the rest will go the way of Cleveland and Detroit.

    As for the non-middle class suburbs, the prospects are not so good there, either.

  25. - Rod - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    This article indicates the City itself, not the larger metro area, is losing Hispanic population in addition to African Americans. See

  26. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    The article makes some valid points, but the census numbers show a stable population of hispanics in Chicago still.

    Trump very well may change that though.

  27. - City Zen - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    Amazing with the influx of all the chads, trixies, and DINK’s flush with cash and paying primo rents combined with the out-migration of poor residents with children in the school system, that Chicago and CPS still cannot balance its budget.

  28. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    City Zen, I’ve said this many times. CPS needs to close more schools and eliminate more positions.

  29. - Atsuishin - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 2:02 pm:

    My family left the w side for Texas last year. Chicago crime is insane and taxes are too high, 8 decades of Dem rule has failed and It’s a relief to be out. Im trying to persuade my parents and brother to move out too. Chicago’s time has passed especially for black folks.

  30. - Ron - Thursday, May 25, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    Atsuishin, most large northern cities are seeing a mass exodus of african americans. It’s the reverse of the last century now.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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