(The Center Square) – For the first time in modern history, the Land of Lincoln has officially lost population as reported by the 10-year Census. The state also loses one member from the U.S. House of Representatives.

Leading statehouse Republicans and Democrats differ on why.

Census Chief Karen Battle said Illinois was one of three states that lost population over the past decade.

“We know that from our population estimates program that the state of Illinois actually had negative net domestic migration,” Battle said.

In 2010, Illinois had 12,830,632 people. In 2020, the Census shows the state had 12,812,508 people, a drop of around 0.1%.

Historical data show that 2020 is the first 10-year Census where Illinois has lost population from the ten years prior, for a total of around 28,000 people. The Census data on its website goes back to 1910.

The other two states lost a larger percentage: Mississippi lost 0.2%, West Virginia lost 3.2%.

All neighboring states to Illinois are keeping their existing number of Congressional seats while Illinois is one of seven states nationwide that is losing a congressman.

State Rep. Ryan Spain said that should be a wake-up call to majority Democrats that they need to enact pro-growth policies.

“There’s only one reason why we’re not and that’s the poor decisions that are coming from Springfield and we have to make that change desperately and urgently,” Spain said. “If our state is not growing, it is dying.”

Before the numbers were released, Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledged the state has seen a drop in population. He said it’s from what he’s characterized as years of disinvestment in the state’s public universities with things like limited taxpayer-funded tuition grants. That’s something he said led to younger people leaving the state.

He said his administration has increased such funding to keep Illinois students in Illinois.

“Collectively that has helped, but unfortunately as you know, just as that was starting to take effect, COVID hit,” Pritzker said Monday.

But, state Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, said the reasons are clear: Democratic policies of increased taxes and increases spending are repelling job creators.

“And this kind of verifies it, high taxes and the regulatory environment that discourages private growth and investment,” Severin said. “We’re losing businesses and people to border states with lower taxes.”

The lost congressman in the next U.S. Congressman means less sway for the state, and less federal funding for the state. It also means Illinois loses a vote in the Electoral College.

The seat held by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, could be impacted by the reduction from 18 members of the U.S. House from Illinois to 17.

“It’s unfortunate, yet unsurprising, that Illinois lost population over the past decade,” Davis said in a statement. “As state lawmakers determine the course for redistricting, I urge the Democrats to keep their word on supporting independent redistricting, particularly Governor Pritzker, who pledged to veto any partisan-drawn map. The politicians in charge should not be using the census to pick their own voters and protect their own power.”

Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, and Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, co-chairs of the Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee, issued a statement late Monday.

“We are reviewing the information released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and remain committed to working with our partners in Washington to ensure Illinois continues to receive the federal resources and support our communities need," the joint statement said. "While the Census Bureau confirmed full redistricting information may not be released until September, we will not abandon our duty to craft a map by June 30 as required by the Illinois Constitution. As others seek to delay and distract, we are focused on gathering input from communities of interest across Illinois to create a fair map that reflects the diversity of our great state.”

Data for states to redraw state legislative districts are expected no later than Sept. 30, total Census data.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.