Fortner says Illinois exodus being ignored
State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) recently told fellow House members that the mass migration of residents out of Illinois needs more attention and discussion in the chamber.
“We learned last December that the state, between the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2016, lost population each of those three years,” Fortner said. “Last week, the census released its equivalent data at the county level. I took some time to go through it, and it tells a story that I think deserves our attention.”
Fortner said people are not just leaving rural Illinois: They are leaving everywhere in the state. According to the December census numbers, Illinois has lost more residents than any other state in the nation in the three-year period, including more than 37,500 in 2016 alone.
“We’ve known that for decades, parts of rural Illinois have lost population and, indeed, that still continues,” he said. “What’s more alarming is that what used to be some of our growth areas in downstate Illinois – areas like Bloomington, areas like Peoria, and even here in Springfield – those areas, since the last three years, have each in their counties lost over 1,000 people. That is a decline that can’t be ignored.”
Larger suburbs are also suffering, Fortner said.
“We also would typically rely on the suburbs to make up the difference, but we are seeing problems there, too,” he said. “DuPage County has also lost over 1,000 people in the same three-year period. Lake County has lost population. McHenry County has been virtually flat. Only Kane, Kendall and Will [counties] have been still exhibiting any growth. In fact, if you ask for counties that have grown at least 100 people or more, there are only eight such counties over the last three years.”
Illinois was one of eight states to lose residents in 2016, when its population dropped to a level not seen since 2009.
“These are deep structural problems that I think do deserve serious debate," Fortner said. "We need to be discussing things like the budget and other techniques that are going to turn around what is a disturbing long-term trend. We need to address these concerns, and I would ask this body to seriously take them up.”
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