More than 120,000 residents left Illinois over the past year (Update)

It’s not just California where an exodus of people is happening. Newly revealed numbers show that over the past year, July to July, over 120,000 people left Illinois.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 113,776 fewer people in Illinois in July than there were in July 2020. Only the District of Columbia and New York state had a greater percentage decline in population.

Taking into account the number of births in the state during that time and those who moved to Illinois during that time, it is estimated that more than 122,000 Illinoisans left the state.

Illinois Policy reports this is the 8th consecutive year of population decline in Illinois:

This marks the eighth consecutive year of population decline for Illinois, according to Census Bureau estimates. The only state that’s population has been in decline longer, West Virginia, currently is suffering its ninth consecutive year of population decline…

Historically speaking, the major reasons Illinoisans are choosing to leave the state are for better housing and employment opportunities, both of which have been made worse by poor public policy in Illinois. Nearly half of Illinoisans have thought about moving away, and they said taxes were their No. 1 reason. Population decline also contributes to the lower economic prospects of the state.

It remains unclear to what extent these factors contributed to Illinoisans moving out of state from 2020-2021, rather than other factors such as pandemic-related job losses, school closures and government mandates.

The site has a nice interactive map showing results (decline or growth over the past year) for every state. In raw numbers, Illinois lost more people than all but two states, California and New York. Massachusetts was in 4th place.

As you can also see from this map, the big winners in this reshuffling of Americans have been Texas and Florida. Texas gained roughly as many people (310,000) as New York lost (319,000). Florida gained a somewhat less (211,000) than what California lost (261,000). The third biggest gain was in Arizona which added almost as many people (98,000) as Illinois lost (113,000).

When you look at it on a percentage basis you get the map seen above. This shuffles the biggest losers slightly with New York still in 1st place but Illinois in 2nd and California in 4th. (Hawaii comes in 3rd place.)

There’s a pretty obvious political angle on all of this. The states losing the most people—New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts—are all progressive bastions while the states gaining the most people are more conservative (Texas, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina). It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that high taxes and high real estate prices have a lot to do with driving people out. As I’ve written before, that’s certainly what I see here in California. Young people just can’t get a foothold in areas where the average price of a home is $795,000 as it is in LA County or $1.5 million as it is in San Francisco. By comparison, the average home price in Fort Worth, TX is $281,000 and in Houston it’s 241,000. Average prices are a bit higher in Orlando, FL at $325,000 but still a long way from California prices. People are voting with their feet, not based on ideology necessarily but based on outcomes.

Finally, there’s also an obvious political outcome to all of this migration. New York has seen a steady decline in House seats since the 1940s. It lost another one this year by a narrow margin and now has just 26 seats. Other losers in the 2020 census were Illinois and California. Meanwhile, Texas gained two seats, Florida gained one and North Carolina gained one. You can never predict if present patterns will continue into the future but if New York and California do continue to lose population at the present rate, they’ll each lose several more seats a decade from now.

Update: Gov. Abbott gets it.