statewide population trends. Illinois lost more residents in 2016 than any other state, census data released last year showed.
In the past, most suburbs were immune from population declines. Many suburbs grew thanks to Chicago residents moving out of the city in pursuit of good public schools and a growing suburban job market.
But now, both the city and its suburbs are losing population, which is troubling to researchers. “That’s not really typical for us,” said Elizabeth Schuh, principal policy analyst at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “Many regions often tend to lose from the central city as residents migrate to the suburbs. When you’re losing from both is when you see regional decline.”
Schuh said the area’s population is stagnant compared to what’s happening around the country.
Cities in southern and western states are growing at a significantly faster clip, according to the census figures. The national average from 2015 to 2016 was a growth rate of 0.7 percent. Houston grew by 7.8 percent to lead all cities with populations above 50,000.
Schuh said Chicago and the suburbs need to market their well-trained workforce and well-developed infrastructure to attract and retain businesses. Meanwhile, she suggested municipalities work collaboratively rather than competitively to lure businesses to the area.
Some suburbs have seen population booms since 2010. East Dundee grew 11 percent, Hampshire grew 12 percent, Deer Park grew 17 percent, Volo grew 46 percent and Pingree Grove grew 61 percent. That’s thanks to new residential construction, but local officials complain that hasn’t spurred growth in other sectors.
“We’ve seen more people come here to live, and land for commercial development has been set aside, but unfortunately that hasn’t transpired,” said Pingree Grove Village Clerk Dawn Grivetti.