Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

As Nation Grew, Illinois Shrunk by 33,000 People in 2023

The state was one of eight that saw population declines between July 2022 and July 2023. Illinois was third in total population decline, behind New York and California, but remains the sixth most populous state.

aerial view of homes in south suburban Chicago area
Homes in the south suburban Chicago area on April 26, 2023.
(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
While the U.S. population returned to a pre-pandemic growth trajectory this year, Illinois was one of eight states to see its numbers decline, a new 2023 census report showed.

Illinois lost 32,826 people between July 2022 and July 2023, trailing only New York and California in total population decline. But Illinois maintained its ranking as the sixth most populous state at 12,549,689, according to the annual census update released Tuesday.

The vintage 2023 population estimates show broader trends reflecting pre-pandemic norms, with fewer deaths and an increase in migration spurring growth. The net result was a gain of more than 1.6 million people in the past year, a 0.5 percent increase that brought the total U.S. population to 334,914,895.

The growth rate is still historically low, but has been ticking up annually since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

“Ultimately, fewer deaths paired with rebounding immigration resulted in the nation experiencing its largest population gain since 2018,” Kristie Wilder, a Census Bureau demographer, said in a news release.

California remains the most populous state at 38,965,193, despite losing more than 75,000 people this year. Texas ranks second at 30,503,301 after adding 473,453 people, followed by Florida, whose population reached 22,610,726, increasing by 365,205, according to census data.

Overall, 42 states saw population increases this year, topped by Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arizona.

The South accounted for 87 percent of the nation’s population growth, adding more than 1.4 million residents. The Midwest reversed a two-year slide, adding more than 126,000 people for a modest 0.2 percent increase. The West region also saw a 0.2 percent increase, while the Northeast declined by 0.1 percent, according to census data.

The South is the only region that sustained its population growth throughout the pandemic, fueled by both domestic and international migration.

Illinois bucked regional growth trends this year, with all neighboring states showing population increases, led by Indiana, which added nearly 30,000 people. On the bright side, Illinois’ rate of decline has slowed after losing nearly 108,000 people last year, according to census data.

After 10 straight years of population declines in Illinois, a return to pre-pandemic norms may not be a cause for much celebration, according to Bryce Hill, director of fiscal and economic research at the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative Chicago-based think tank.

“Obviously, a slowdown compared to the past couple years in population loss and out-migration is truly welcome and something that the state desperately needs,” Hill said. “Our concern is that nothing’s fundamentally changed in Illinois, and so the return to pre-pandemic trends is still net negative for the state.”

The Illinois population decline of nearly 33,000 people in 2023 is due in large part to the net domestic migration of 83,839 people who left for other states, offset by net international immigration, which added 40,492 people, according to census data.

While it is not clear if the new census data fully reflects it, more than 26,000 migrants have been bused to Chicago since August 2022 from Texas and other southern border states.

Despite the recent influx of international migrants, Hill said the state needs to focus on domestic migration to reverse the long-term trend of population declines.

“We need to be thinking about how can we retain more Illinoisans and how can we attract people from other states to move here,” Hill said.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Illinois has lost 263,780 people from the April 1, 2020, census base of 12,813,469. That puts Illinois ahead of only New York and California, which saw population declines of 631,104 and 573,019, respectively. The 2.1 percent population decline for Illinois since 2020 is the second highest behind New York, which fell 3.1 percent, according to census data.

©2023 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


TNS delivers daily news service and syndicated premium content to more than 2,000 media and digital information publishers.
From Our Partners