Chicago’s population is declining, according to latest Census Bureau estimates

Estimates suggest the city lost more than 7,000 residents from 2017 to 2018.

SHARE Chicago’s population is declining, according to latest Census Bureau estimates

Steam rises over Lake Michigan near the Chicago skyline. File photo.


U.S. Census Bureau estimates say the majority of municipalities in the Chicago region, including the city itself, lost population last year.

The yearly estimates released this week show that Chicago remains the nation’s third-largest city with just over 2.7 million residents, down an estimated 7,073 from 2017 to 2018.

African American residents, in particular, have left the region at higher rates in recent years. More than 14,000 African Americans left Cook County between 2016 and 2017.

“It’s continuing the same trend that’s been going on for a number of years,” Daniel Kay Hertz, senior policy analyst with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability said.

“In the city, population loss is entirely focused on black neighborhoods on the South and West sides, that seems to have to do with a long legacy of discrimination and disinvestment,” Hertz said.

A recent University of Chicago study found that over a third of young adults, especially African Americans, want to leave the city. Racism, fractured police-community relations, neighborhood disinvestment and lack of job opportunities were cited as the causes in the study.

Hertz said its important to consider not only outmigration, but that Illinois overall has had fewer people moving in.

“The regional and state economies are just not growing very much. There aren’t as many job opportunities, or they’re growing in different places,” Hertz said.

Mexican migration was a huge part of Chicago’s demographic growth in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and that slowdown may also be a factor in decreased population growth, Hertz said.

The Census reported cities in the South and West continue to have the most growth. Phoenix, Arizona is the fastest-growing large city, with an increase of more than 25,000 residents. Only one city in the Midwest was among the 15 cities with the largest gains between 2017 and 2018 — Columbus, Ohio.

The latest estimates released this week show that most municipalities in northeastern Illinois aren’t adding residents, but far northwest suburban municipalities such as Huntley and the village of Pingree Grove are among those growing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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