According to U.S. census data released Tuesday, December 20, 2026 Illinois has lost more residents than any other state in the United State. With Illinois losing 37,508 people in 2016, this marks the third consecutive year that Illinois has lost more residents than any other state.
The consecutive record out-migrations drops the Illinois population to 12,801,539 — the lowest Illinois has been in seven years.
Eight states in the United States are experiencing a net loss of residents.
Recent population drops for Illinois began in 2014 with a net loss of 11,961 people. That number worsened in 2015 with a loss of 28,497 people, and now a net loss of 37,508 in 2016.
“Illinois is a part of the country where, in general, during the recession, it held on to (people) who wanted to move to Sun Belt states. Now, it’s losing them,” according to William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution who analyzes census data, who classified the 3-year consecutive loss in Illinois as a “cause for alarm.”
Chicago has counted on Mexican immigrants to balance the sluggish growth of its native-born population. During the 1990s, immigration accounted for most of Chicago’s population growth. After 2007, Mexican-born populations began to fall across all of the United States in major metropolitan areas. Most of the large cities made up for the loss with the growth of their native populations, but not Chicago. South side neighborhood populations in Chicago are dropping as residents attempt to flee crime. Populations near downtown neighborhoods are rising, while the overall population of Chicago is dropping.
Reasons for leaving Illinois include high taxes and fees, high property taxes, high crime rates, lack of jobs and high unemployment, the state budget stalemate, government corruption, harsh commuting conditions, and harsh winter weather.
Many Illinois residents have left for Texas, Florida, Indiana, California and Arizona where there are better job opportunities and more affordable housing. In Texas, a person can get twice the house with half the property tax.
This year Chicago’s crime has spread out of the worst neighborhoods of the city and manifested as shootings on the city’s expressways.
Reasons for businesses leaving Illinois include high corporate taxes, and high liability risks. For the past several years, many obstetric & gynecology specialists have left Illinois because of costly malpractice insurance premiums.
Cook County was cited by Cook CountyRecord (owned by U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform) for a recent spike in Americans with Disabilities lawsuits filed against Chicago small businesses. Fourteen shops, including a flower shop and a breakfast & coffee shop, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago were hit with ADA lawsuits filed by one personal injury lawyer.
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