By Cole Lautherbach/Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – In a 12-month period, the equivalent of Peoria’s population left Illinois.
According to U.S. Census data released Tuesday, 114,144 Illinoisans moved out of Illinois in the 12 months between July 2015 and July 2016.
That outmigration was the largest of any in the nation and resulted in a net loss of more than 37,000 Illinoisans. And for the third consecutive year, Census data showed Illinois was the only state in the Midwest to lose net population.
“We had net migration to other states equal to the population of Peoria all in one year,” said Illinois Policy Institute vice president of policy Michael Lucci. “Imagine just taking your seventh largest city and saying ‘they’re not paying taxes anymore.’ That’s what just happened in Illinois.”
Lucci said the blame for a population loss of this size rests with lawmakers in Springfield.
“We have serious, serious problems,” Lucci said. “Working people are fleeing this state. Taxpayers are fleeing this state. People who want jobs are fleeing this state. It’s time for Springfield to wake up and realize that they’re the ones causing this problem.”
“States in the South and West continued to lead in population growth,” Ben Bolender, Chief of the Population Estimates Branch of the Census said. “In 2016, 37.9 percent of the nation’s population lived in the South and 23.7 percent lived in the West.”
The total U.S. population grew by 0.7 percent to 323.1 million. Voting-age residents, adults ages 18 and older, grew to 249.5 million. That group represented 77.2 percent of the population in 2016, an increase of 0.9 percent from 2015.
Utah saw the highest amount of growth with a 2 percent increase to 3.1 million people.
At 12.8 million people and shrinking Illinois is tracking to drop to the sixth-largest state in the nation, falling behind Pennsylvania.