A tale of two counties: influx in Iowa, inertia in Illinois
Dallas County, Iowa, and Cook County, Illinois, are about five hours apart, but they might as well be in different worlds when it comes to what is happening to their populations.
U.S. Census Bureau data show that while Cook experienced the largest population loss of any county in the country in 2016, at 21,324 residents, Dallas was among the nation’s 10 fastest-growing counties.
In addition, among the 10 largest metro areas, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ilinois-Indiana-Wisconsin area was the only metro area that did not grow between 2015 and 2016.
Iowa leaders stress that the growth it is seeing is not by chance.
“We work to develop chamber professionals and local communities with many benefits, such as professional training, communications network, scholarships to our conferences and American Chamber of Commerce Executives Conference, U.S. Chamber Conference and Institutes for Organizational Management,” Shar Pardubsky, an executive with the Iowa Chamber of Commerce, told the Rock Island Today.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune has reported some of the primary reasons many have given for abandoning Illinois include greater job and business opportunities and an overall stronger local economies elsewhere.
“Iowa is a great place to live, great state for educating our children, low taxes, many jobs available for all ages,” Pardubsky said. “Health care is of great availability for all, and you just can't help but love all Iowans. We are caring people and love to work to continue to make Iowa the best.”
Chicago was the only one of the 10 largest U.S. cities to drop in population between 2015 and 2016, losing 19,570 residents in 2016 alone.
And the worst might not be over, with many experts forecasting the state’s population will continue to dwindle as things like taxes and crime show no signs of subsiding.
Overall, Illinois lost 37,508 residents in 2016, plunging the state’s population to its lowest levels since 2009.
The suddenly dwindling population doesn’t come without consequences. State and federal government dollars are at least partly allocated based on population.
In addition, a smaller population leaves every taxpayer with a heavier burden to cover in order to make up for the losses, and most of the residents fleeing Illinois have been found to be younger, working-age adults.