Lessons Learned from Census 2010

Lessons Learned from Census 2010

As mandated by Article 1 of the U.S.Constitution, Congress is required to authorize and fund a complete count of the American population every 10 years. The form of the decennial census has changed over time, from a simple enumeration of the population to a snapshot of its social, economic, and demographic profile. Last summer, the Census Bureau released complete data on its latest headcount that was conducted in April of 2010. This chapter uses 2010 census data and other recent sources1 to draw seven policy lessons about critical demographic patterns and trends that have direct relevance to state and municipal governance, revenue streams, and program service deliverability. Illinois is changing and with change comes new opportunities and challenges. During these tough economic times, it is crucial that policy decisions recognize Illinois’ demographic reality. Lesson 1: Stagnant Population Growth Illinois’ population has grown in every decade since statehood was granted in 1818 (Figure 1). The current population of 12.8 million makes Illinois the fifth largest state, behind California (37.2 million), Texas (25.1 million), New York (19.4 million) and Florida (18.8 million), and the largest state in the Midwest. More than one out of every 25 Americans calls Illinois home.While the state’s historical standingas a major population hub clearly remains, the ability to maintain this ranking in the years ahead is less clear. While the U.S.
population increased by 9.7 percent between 2000 and 2010, Illinois increased by merely 3.3 percent. While this slow growth was not uncharacteristic of other states in the region—including Michigan which actually declined by 0.6 percent—it meant that Illinois ranked 41st among the 50 states in terms of population growth during the 2000s and was even slower than demographers had predicted. All population growth and change is generated by two demographic processes: natural increase and net migration. Both are simple:natural increase is the number of births minus the number of deaths occurring during some period, while net migration is the number of people moving into an area (inmigrants) minus the number of people moving out (out-migrants). Each of these is contributing to Illinois’ stagnant growth.

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"As state and local policymakers are required to make tough choices and major changes, they must be conscious of Illinois’ shifting demography."

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