Illinois’ population went down by an estimated 51,250 people in 2019, or 0.4%, marking the sixth consecutive year the state has lost residents, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since the turn of the decade, Illinois has lost more residents than any other state, with a drop of about 159,700 people, or 1.2% of its population. Only three other states have shrunk since 2010: Connecticut, Vermont and West Virginia, with the latter losing the largest share of its residents, a 3.3% decline.

Population losses in Illinois have been compounding since 2014, when the state began a steady, though not precipitous, decline. Last year, Illinois dropped to the sixth-most-populous state in the nation, falling behind Pennsylvania and New York.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, has lost an estimated 532,095 people since 2010, or 14% of its population.

In examining population trends in Illinois over the past year, the Tribune found that a decrease in people moving to Illinois from other states and countries exacerbated the impact of declining birth rates and increasing numbers of people moving out of the state.

The new census numbers indicate that the flow of people into and out of Illinois caused the state to lose about 6.8 people per 1,000 residents in the past year. That number combines positive net international migration and negative net domestic migration. People moving to Illinois from other countries, combined with residents who moved abroad, added about 1.5 people per 1,000 residents. But more people moved out of Illinois to other states — about 8.3 people per 1,000 — than moved in.

Illinois’ net domestic migration rate in 2019 was the fourth worst in the nation, behind New York, Hawaii and Alaska.

The new numbers offer only net migration estimates and do not allow comparisons between how many people left Illinois and how many moved in. But in September, the Tribune reported that Illinois stood out in failing to attract new residents from other countries and states.

While the census data released Monday offers a new window into population changes in the state, it is the full census count in 2020 that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for Illinois as well as to allocate federal funding dollars.


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