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People Leaving Illinois’ Largest County Could Benefit Chicago


May 15, 2023
People Leaving Illinois’ Largest County Could Benefit Chicago

Population loss from Illinois’ largest county and home to Chicago has lifted some nearby counties and states, and that could provide new opportunities for the third-biggest U.S. city to attract younger residents as housing costs in some areas fall.

Those are the findings from a recent report by, a location analytics firm based in California.

The city of Chicago’s population expanded slightly in the past decade ending in 2020, according to U.S. Census data, and the city’s downtown has been the fastest growing in the nation for decades. Yet the population of Cook County has followed the statewide trend of contraction. That’s noteworthy because Cook County is the nation’s second-most populous after Los Angeles County in California.

Top destinations for people leaving Cook County in recent years have included six other Illinois counties, as well as two in neighboring Indiana and one in neighboring Wisconsin, according to the report. People moving into Cook County, meanwhile, are most commonly coming from other states, most of which are outside the Midwest. That includes three California counties among the top six from which residents are moving into Cook County.

Besides the Chicago Loop central business district, other areas of the city with net increases in migration between December 2021 and December 2022 included University Village, River North and Lakeview, according to the report. Other areas of Chicago and the broader metropolitan area, where population is declining along with housing costs, could attract new residents.

“A slowing real estate market can spark concern — but it can also serve as a kick-starter for urban renewal,” the report said. “More affordable housing creates opportunities for younger and more diverse communities that may be priced out of more expensive markets. And as housing prices cool off, more people can start moving back in.”

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