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Census Reveals Population Change in Illinois



The first official census counts revealed population changes in Illinois, including declining populations in Chicago, growing collar counties, and changes to racial demographics. IGPA faculty member Dr. Matthew Hall provides analysis of the data in a report titled, "Population Change during Trying Times: Illinois’ New Demographic Reality."

Click here for the full report, including a detailed map of population change by county, and a table of total population by county and racial/ethnic populations, 1990-2010. 

April 25, 2011: Inaccuracies were identified in the 1990 population for Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, and St. Clair counties. These errors, which are now corrected, have no affect on general patterns across the state. We thank Doug Knight for bringing this issue to our attention.





1. Illinois grew by 411,399 during the 2000s—a relatively small increase of 3.3%

The state total population went from 12.4 million in 2000 to 12.8 million in 2010. This increase of 3.3% was substantially smaller than Illinois’ increase of 8.6% during the 1990s, and was considerably lower than the 9.7% increase during the 2000s in the total U.S. population.

2. Population growth is due to increasing Latino and Asian populations

The non-Latino white population declined by 3.0% and the non-Latino black population dropped by 1.3%. Net population losses were prevented by extraordinary growth in the non-Latino Asian and Latino populations, which grew by 38.0% and 32.5%, respectively.

3. Latinos are now the state’s largest minority group

For the first time in Illinois history, the Latino population outnumbers the black population. Latinos comprised 15.8% of the state population in 2010. Blacks made up 14.3%. This is a dramatic shift from 2000 when blacks were 15.0% and Latinos were 12.3% of the population.

4. Asians are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group

While the size of the Asian population is considerably smaller than other major racial/ethnic groups, it is growing more rapidly than any of them. The number of Asians increased from 423,032 to 583,563; a rate of growth (38.0%) faster than any other racial/ethnic group.

5. Chicago's population is, once again, declining

The City of Chicago declined by 200,418 people during the 2000s—a 6.9% reduction in total population. This reverses a population increase during the 1990s, but continues a trend of population decline in the city that began in 1950.

6. Black population decreased sharply in the Chicago area, altering its racial mix

Chicago’s black population dropped by 17.2%, falling from 1.05 million to 0.87 million. They remain the largest group in the city – comprising 32.4% of the total population, but the Latino and non-Latino white populations follow closely behind at 28.9% and 31.7% respectively.

7. State population growth occurred mostly in suburban Chicago

The five fastest growing counties were all located in the area surrounding the city of Chicago. They were, in order: Kendall (110.4%), Will (34.9%), Grundy (33.4%), Boone (29.6%), and Kane (27.5%). This pattern was true for all major racial/ethnic groups, but growth in the Asian and Latino populations in these areas was especially explosive.

8. Rapid population loss limited to rural Illinois, but growth in Latino population

The five most rapidly declining counties were located in rural portions of the state that were historically reliant on natural resource extraction. In order, they were: Pulaski (-16.2%), Alexander (-14.1%), Gallatin (-13.3%), Henderson (-10.7%), and Hardin (-10.0%). Despite net population losses in these counties, the Latino population grew in all but one (Pulaski). Indeed, the Latino population increased in 101 of the 102 counties in the state, and many of the most rapid gains occurred in non-metropolitan counties, like Scott (330.0%), Lawrence (303.7%), Clark, (218.5%), and Warren (193.9%).