While Chicago remains the nation’s third-most-populous city — with 2.69 million people — it lost more than 200,000 residents during the last decade, Census Bureau figures released Tuesday show.
That is about a 7 percent decrease, a sharper drop than some leaders had expected and gloomy news for the city’s budget writers (who have to worry about the tax base) and elected officials (who have to worry about who will bear the political brunt of redistricting).
The decline among blacks may be explained in part by migration to the suburbs, the demolition of thousands of high-rise public housing units and a broader population shift to the South.
Even as the city shrank, a ring of suburbs along its fringes expanded rapidly. In fact, two of those counties — Will and Kendall — will probably rank among the fastest-growing counties in the nation over the last decade, said Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire.
This is, in fact, a familiar story among America's cities. We saw it first in Cleveland as long ago as the 1950s, as residents left the inner city for the suburbs, and central city residents in many of the country's older cities, in particular, have been voting with their feet for past two to three decades. This is not the same, then, as the phenomenon in New Orleans, where people abandoned the metro area for other parts of the country.