It’s no secret that people are leaving Illinois; The last several years have been dominated by conversation over the exodus from the Land of Lincoln. However there is data to support that this out-migration is not a new trend. For 39 years United Van Lines, one of the country’s largest movers of household goods, has conducted its own survey on which states people are moving to and from. Since the National Movers Study’s inception in 1977, Illinois has been a staple on the outbound list. The last decade has seen this flight from Illinois become even more prominent. In 2006, United Van Lines reported that 55.7% of the Illinois moves they conducted were outbound, and the percentage of people leaving the state has only increased. Since 2009, Illinois has ranked in the top five on the list of outbound states, even taking the top spot in 2011. Data released on January 3, 2017 showed the trend continued in 2016. Illinois jumped up to second on the outbound list, it placed third the previous year, with 63% of moves taking residents out of the state. And while this data reflects the relocations completed by United Van Lines, national census data corroborates the exodus from Illinois.
The population of Illinois did increase between the 2000 and 2010 census from 12,419,231 to 12,830,632, making it the fifth most populous state in the country. But despite this numerical growth, the state is in poor health. Illinois saw a 3.3% growth in its population in the first decade of the 21st century, but this is not in line with the 9.7% increase the United States saw as a whole over this same time period. 2015 population estimates gave Illinois a 0.2% increase from 2010, while the country was estimated to have grown 4.1% in total. In comparison to Illinois, other top five populated states have seen greater overall growth percentages than the country’s total population increase. For example, California, Florida, and Texas, are estimated to have increased 5.1%, 7.8%, and 9.2% respectively between 2010-2015. Illinois’ disproportional growth to the country’s total population increase could predict further stagnation and population loss in the coming years. In 2016, Illinois lost the most residents of any state. It is believed that Pennsylvania could surpass Illinois and become the fifth most populous state if this trend continues. So will 2017 see more flight from Illinois, or will the new year bring new residents to the Prairie State?