Are your neighbors leaving town? Database shows population in west-central Illinois communities shrinking

West Central Illinois

Illinois continued to lose population last year, with people leaving 75 percent of the communities in the state. 

But what about your town? Did it lose or gain? And by how much?

Illinois Policy recently created a database with population figures for more than 1,000 communities, municipalities, cities, towns and burbs throughout the state. Illinois Policy is an independent 501(c)(4) advocacy organization. Its partner organization is the Illinois Policy Institute, a 501(c)(3) research organization.

Chicago led the losses at 8,208, census data from July 1, 2023, shows. The next worst were Cicero, losing 734 people, and Arlington Heights, losing 540.

Some communities gained: Plainfield added 1,167 residents, and Oswego gained 1,157.

Governor JB Pritzker disputed the findings when asked about them in a news conference last Thursday.

There is, as you know, every ten years a census that gets done. That’s where people’s doors get knocked on, people are filling out forms, right. And every ten years, we literally count every single person in the state and then in every year between those 10-year periods, 2010, 2020, 2030.

Between those years, there’s something that’s relatively new in the census world called the American Community Survey. And it’s more like a poll. It’s more sophisticated than a poll, but it’s a poll that tries to determine what the changes are year to year in population. That poll has been inaccurate for the state of Illinois for more than 10 years. How do I know this? Because they’ve been doing this poll during the 2010s, from 2010 to 2020. And I saw the poll data, that information every year, and when I was running even I said, oh my goodness, you know, we’re really losing that kind of population. It’s an emergency. It’s something we need to get on, jump on. What populations are we losing? How do we keep them in the state of Illinois? How do we attract others and so on?

It turns out when we actually counted people in 2020, we weren’t losing hundreds of thousands of people. That was false. We counted every person, so you know that the accuracy is there.

Now the question is, okay, well, if the ACS data is wrong every year, and the actual count is right, and that is true, then and by the way, in addition to the number that we originally counted, it turns out, they do something called a post enumeration survey, which basically checks the work. And the post enumeration survey determined, actually Illinois got under-counted. Even though we try to count every single person some people are homeless and don’t get counted. Some people are just hidden and hard to get to and they didn’t get counted.

So what did they determine from that? Illinois gained population. We have more than 13 million people in the state of Illinois.

Well, then 2021 came in, here came another ACS survey, and it showed another year of population loss, reported the survey that had been inaccurate for the 10 years earlier. That survey hasn’t changed. So we’ve gone to the Census Bureau and told them how inaccurate this clearly is. And they believed us and they went around and looked at the cities in the state that applied. We had a group of cities who kind of went to the Census Bureau and said, This is wrong. We’re seeing more people than you are. And what did they do? They upped the numbers, the population numbers for each of those cities that were part of that application.

So it’s clear there’s something wrong with the ACS data. And I know you guys keep reporting that we’re losing population based upon that inaccurate data … When we count people, it turns out we’re gaining population.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

Click here to look up the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates for any community in Illinois.

However, the table below shows population figures for communities from Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike counties listed in the Illinois Policy database. It also shows a percent increase or decrease in population from 2020 to 2023 for west-central Illinois communities.

Mount Sterling was the only local community to see an increase in population from 2020 to 2023.

Municipality20202021202220232022-23 changePercent change since 2020
Quincy39,41039,10838,84038,083-37-1.54%
Augusta556549546544-2-2.16%
Barry1,2931,2891,2791,262−17-2.40%
Basco79787877−1-2.53%
Baylis169168167164−3-2.96%
Bentley27272726−1-3.70%
Bowen461457455453-2-1.74%
Camp Point1,1231,1221,1141,1140-0.08%
Carthage2,4902,4692,4522,441-11-1.97%
Clayton638630622621−1-2.66%
Coatsburg1471451441440-2.04%
Columbus1141121121120-1.75%
Elvaston1481461451450-2.03%
Ferris127124123122−1-3.94%
Golden645639632630−2-2.33%
Griggsville1,0911,0861,0761,060−16-2.84%
Hamilton2,7422,7162,6982,689-9-1.93%
Kinderhook187188186184−2-1.60%
La Prairie404039390-2.50%
Liberty541536529527−2-2.59%
Lima1471461441440-2.04%
Loraine298296295294−1-1.34%
Mendon869861853851−2-2.07%
Mount Sterling1,9892,0742,0232,016−74.27%
Nauvoo941932927923-4-1.91%
New Canton331332328324−4-2.11%
New Salem1191191181180-0.84%
Payson1,0221,0121,0031,000−3-2.15%
Perry312311311305−6-2.24%
Pittsfield4,1684,1574,1204,072−48-2.30%
Plainville2712682652650-2.21%
Pleasant Hill924923916908−8-1.73%
Ursa607601596592-4-2.47%
Warsaw1,5051,4901,4791,473−6-2.13%
West Point1411391381380-2.13%

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