A WBEZ analysis of 2020 census data released earlier this month reveals several findings offering nuance and context to the broad storylines about the slight population loss in Illinois and the mild population growth in Chicago and surrounding areas. Here are some of the most interesting findings and visualizations to illustrate them.
1. White flight?
Buried beneath the headlines of population loss in Illinois and stagnant population growth for the counties surrounding Chicago are the deep losses in population among white residents throughout the state.
2. Downtown area growth fuels Chicago’s growth
Chicago’s modest growth from 2010 to 2020 was due largely to the city’s downtown and surrounding areas. Outside those areas, however, the rest of the city, collectively, lost nearly 10,000 residents during the past decade. Seven South Side communities registered double-digit percent declines.
3. Chicago sees widespread demographic swings throughout the city
In 30 Chicago community areas, the numbers for one group increased by more than 1,000 while the numbers for another group decreased by more than 1,000.
Among the most dramatic shifts were in communities where the African American population is rapidly declining as the Latino population surges, like Austin, Chicago Lawn, New City, and West Englewood. Gentrifying communities like Logan Square and West Town have gained white residents and lost Latinos. Meanwhile, in several other communities, white residents are declining as people of color grow in numbers — Latinos in Clearing and Dunning, and Asians and African Americans in West Ridge.
4. Suburban diversity
In suburban Cook County and the surrounding collar counties, white population fell as the non-white population surged, particularly among Latinos and Asians.
5. Racial and ethnic groups shift in the suburbs
In more than 70 Chicago-area suburbs, the numbers for one group increased by more than 1,000 while the numbers for another group decreased by more than 1,000.
Almost all of the shifts involved the loss of white residents and the rise in Latino, Asian or Black residents. The Latino population grew the most in Joliet, Elgin, Waukegan and Oak Lawn. The highest population gains were seen among Asian residents in Naperville, Aurora, Schaumburg and Buffalo Grove. And the Black population increased the most in south suburban Lansing, Homewood, Park Forest and Tinley Park.
The only other shifts involved the loss of Black residents and the growth of Latino residents in west suburban Maywood and Bellwood and south suburban Harvey and Markham.
6. The future of Chicago?
The children of Chicago are largely non-white, comprising nearly 81% of the city total. By far, Latinos make up the city’s largest group of kids, comprising 40% of Chicago residents under the age of 18.
Alden Loury is the senior editor of WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow him on Twitter @AldenLoury.
Charmaine Runes is WBEZ’s data/visuals reporter. Follow her on Twitter @maerunes.