Central Illinois county sees 4th highest population loss in state

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) –Many of us have heard about Illinois’ population loss.

Now, new numbers from U.S. Census data show Macon County is in the top four in the state for losing people. Macon County alone lost more than 6,000 between 2010 and 2018. It was only beat by Cook, Winnebago, and St. Clair counties.

The whole state is part of this trend. In fact, out of the 102 counties in the state, 93 of them have lost people since 2010. We talked to some of you about why you think that’s happening and what could be done to help.

“The biggest reason is taxes. We’re taxed to death,” said Cindy Wingard of Oreana.

“People are leaving because of taxes,” said Julie Ryan of Decatur.

That’s the first thing that comes to mind for many when you ask why someone would want to leave the state, but each county’s population loss looks a little different. A study by Wirepoints based on U.S. Census data tracks those losses from 2010 through 2018. Macon County ranks number four out of 102. Peoria and Vermilion aren’t far behind. People we talked to say they know many who have considered a shift.

“I’ve had a lot of people talk about it. But you know, you’re taxed so much that you can’t afford to move. You know, it takes everything you have just to survive now, let alone pack up and move,” said Wingard.

“There’s a lot of people that have gone to Florida – our friends have – and a lot of friends have moved to Mt. Zion, Moro, Forsyth, you know, younger friends that want their children in those schools,” said Sue Phillips of Decatur. Phillips believes there are a lot of great things about the area, but agrees more people need to get behind that idea.

“Decatur has had a bad rap, I think, and so we need to get on the upswing,” said Phillips. “I think the people are so friendly. That’s what helped me stay here too.”

So, why stick around? Well, there are several reasons.

“Definitely family is the reason that I’m here,” said Ryan.

“I love Decatur. I’ve always loved Decatur. I will be staying here. I have grandchildren over in Indiana, but I’ll go visit. I still think Decatur is a great place,” said Phillips.

Those who are here seem to have hope that something better could be right around the corner.

Only nine counties shown growth between 2010 and 2018. That includes Champaign, McLean, and Effingham. Illinois’ population fell again last year. That’s the sixth year in a row Illinois has shrunk. Numbers fell by 51,000 in 2019. That’s the second most in the nation. For a full breakdown by county, head here.

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