DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The 2020 U.S. Census has started, but a recent estimate showed a troubling sign for Decatur.
It was shown to be the third-fastest shrinking city in the U.S. The population has gone down seven percent since 2010 and is now at just over 70,000 people.
“It’s certainly a little bit disappointing or frustrating that we’re still on that downward trend and put us into that category of that third fastest shrinking large town in America,” says Deputy City Manager John Kindseth. “It’s not a title that anybody necessarily wants.”
The city’s peak came in the 90’s at just under 100,000 people. Kindseth thinks the decrease happened for a variety of reasons, including people leaving town to go to other school districts, the older population heading south, and the entire state’s population loss.
As a city that has lost thousands of jobs since the last full Census, a UI Urban Planning Professor says he thinks the U.S. and Midwest economy has had the biggest impact.
“If Decatur wants to start increasing it’s population and it wants to enhance it’s tax base, these economic forces need to be taken on,” says David Wilson. “And that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Decatur has been working towards increasing its population by annexing in more land. City leaders are also focused on making sure people participate in this years Census.
“The city has been working hard with a lot of our community partners to try and encourage the 2020 Census,” says Kindseth. “We’re hoping that’s going to bring our population number back up from the 2019 estimate that the Census released that started this conversation. But time will tell.”
Decatur is not the only Illinois city found on the list. Rockford also makes an appearance. Only cities with more than 50,000 people were included in the Census table.