City of Chicago Population Declines as Its Region Decentralizes

The U.S. Bureau of the Census revealed a shocker for residents of the Windy City earlier this year: The city’s population has fallen by almost 200,000 in the past year. The city has 2.7 million resident and the 2009 estimate was 2.85 million according to urbanist Aaron Renne over a Of course, the annual population estimates are just that, estimates, and the decennial numbers are far more accurate. Nevertheless, Chicago’s population decline is still important.

Rather than focus on the decline, however, Renne makes several important observations:

  • Average incomes have increased in the City of Chicago;
  • The number of residents with higher education degrees has increased as well;
  • Most population growth for the region has occurred outside the city limits in the suburbs and exurbs.

Chicago is still an example of revitalizaton, and the redevelopment inside “The Loop” and downtown is something to herald. But, the point remains, even Chicago can’t shake from global patterns of population decentralization as Bob Bruegmann, Joel Kotkin, Wendell Cox and others have observed.