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2020 CENSUS: Illinois’ population loss could put the state in danger

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:24 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The 2020 Census data is crucial for deciding the amount of federal dollars and the number of congressional seats each state receives, but with the number of people moving out of the state, Illinois could be in trouble.

“Illinois is losing the most population out of all the state’s when you look at proportions,” said Sherrie Taylor, Northern Illinois University senior research specialist.

The official 2020 Census data hasn’t been released but Taylor reviewed the estimates showing Illinois lost more than 250,000 residents over the past decade.

“I think taxes have a lot to do with it. There’s been a lot of issues with the pension crisis and folks are concerned about paying for that,” Taylor said.

Taylor says some people leave Illinois to escape the cold temperatures and the state’s largest city is running out of room to grow.

“The city of Chicago is also landlocked,” Taylor said.

Taylor says residents shouldn’t panic yet, but the number of congressional seats the state holds could be on the line.

“We are going to lose one seat in the House of Representatives which means we are going from 18 seats down to 17” Taylor said.

While Taylor maps out the losses Illinois could face, Rockford Chief Of Staff Wester Wouri looks at ways to fix the problem.

“What can we do not only to attract people to move to Illinois and our region, but what can we do to make things better for the people who currently live here,” Wouri said.

One initiative the city implemented is the Rockford Promise, which allows Rockford Public Schools students who earn at least a3.0 grade point average to attend NIU tuition free.

“That could be attractive to someone who lives 5 miles outside of Rockford or 500 miles outside of Rockford, So it’s those kinds of programs,” Wouri said.

The 2020 Census data is set to be released in March.

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