Illinois Population Rises Slightly from 2010 Census
ILLINOIS -- Our country is starting this New Year with about 317 million people. According to the Census Bureau, that's two million more than a year ago. It represents some of the slowest population growth since the Great Depression, and Illinois is one of the states lagging behind.
The latest estimates show that only two states, West Virginia and Maine, have lost population since the 2010 census. However, the numbers have stayed relatively unchanged in several other states. Illinois is in that group with only a small increase.
"It hasn't declined in numbers but has declined in rate of population growth since the 70s," said Dr. John Jackson with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
About 52,000 people have been added to the state's population since 2010. That's a change of less than half a percent and makes Illinois one of the 10 slowest growing states.
"Certainly jobs is a part of it, educational systems part of it, infrastructure is a part of it," said Jackson.
Jackson believes the trend hits hardest in rural regions, including southern Illinois. Predictions that the state could lose another seat in Congress in 2020 don't seem too far off, although Jackson warns a lot can happen in the next six years.
"We've steadily lost at the rate of one member usually every 10 years," said Jackson.
Much of the nation's growth can be found out west or in states with warmer climates.
North Dakota took the top spot. The population there is up by more than seven percent.
"Almost exclusively from because of oil and energy," said Jackson. "Likewise, Texas enjoying oil and energy growth."
That drilling is now being debated for southern Illinois. Taking fracking out of the picture, Jackson feels our region has a few benefits that could improve population growth in the coming years.
"In the midwest, we have great supplies of water," said Jackson.
Parts of the southwest and Florida may not have enough water to keep up with growth.
Another bonus is that Illinois continues to play a big role in agriculture.
"We've got some minuses and we've got some plusses," said Jackson. "On balance, it's resulted in slow growth."
Jackson says immigration has continued to push the U.S. population up, even though birth rates have dropped. He believes those immigrants are also boosting the numbers for Illinois.
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