The nation’s third-largest city lost residents for the third year in a row in 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Wednesday.
Chicago’s population stood at an estimated 2,716,450 as of July 1 last year, compared with 2,720,275 the same day in 2016. The drop in residents represents a 0.14 percent decrease over the year.
Experts are cautious to say how significant these estimates are.
“That’s just a blip,” said Chicago-based demographer Rob Paral. “That’s not cause of alarm nor celebration.”
Paral said that the estimates display population trends that have taken place in Chicago the last few years: African Americans are leaving the city while immigration slows down and wealthier people move in.
The Chicago region is expected the reverse the recent population loss and grow through 2030, according to Alden Loury, director of research at the Metropolitan Planning Council.
“While the loss is minor from the standpoint of the city’s total population, consistent population decline is a clear sign that the city is deficient in areas that typically attract and retain residents, investments and other products of healthy economic factors,” Loury said.
Among cities nationwide, Chicago lost the third-most number of residents in 2017, behind only Baltimore (a loss of 5,310) and St. Louis (a loss of 4,518).
The U.S. Census Bureau revised estimates from previous years and now shows Chicago’s decline in population began in 2015, not 2014. Chicago’s drop in 2017 was lower than the estimated decline of 4,879 the previous year.
Chicago has gained over 20,000 residents since the last official census in 2010, though both San Antonio and Phoenix gained more than 24,000 from 2016 to 2017, the most of any cities nationally.
While nearly all municipalities in Cook County lost some population in 2017, the Chicago area experienced growth in outlying counties. The communities of Plainfield, North Aurora, Pingree Grove, Bolingbrook and Itasca all saw their estimated population grow by more than 600, according to the census.
The map below shows how population has changed Illinois’ cities, towns and villages since the 2010 census.