(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’s focused on reversing the state’s continued outbound migration. But a congressman says high unemployment from the governor’s COVID-19 orders is likely going to compound that.

The state lost nearly 80,000 people in the year that ended July 2020, according to analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s 22,000 more than were lost the year before and the seventh consecutive loss of population in the past 10 years. Illinois led the nation in population decline for the past decade at 255,000.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, told WMAY it’s likely that means Illinois loses at least one seat in Congress. He said 154,000 new unemployment filers last week will compound the state’s population decline.

“And with the unemployment numbers, many of those seeking unemployment are probably going to look at an opportunity elsewhere and it’s not going to help,” Davis said.

Pritzker said he’s being a cheerleader for Illinois to attract business, but it’s going to take time.

“It takes time to turn a battleship or a aircraft carrier in the right direction and we’ve been doing that in the last two years and I will continue to do that,” Pritzker said.

The pace of population loss accelerated under the first 18 months of the Pritzker administration.

Davis blamed statehouse Democrats that have been in control of state policy for years, increasing taxes and spending while not addressing structural deficits.


Associate Editor

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.