Population change across age groups in the CMAP region

Population growth is both a condition and a consequence of economic prosperity. Thus, the Chicago region’s residents are both the primary drivers of economic growth — and, in recent years, an indicator of slowing economic progress.

The human capital embodied in a well-educated, talented, and innovative resident pool provides significant economic value to the region’s businesses. At the same time, residents choose to live here based on their perceptions of quality of life and economic opportunity within the region. The region cannot retain skilled residents without strong economic opportunities for those residents. Consequently, trends in population growth offer a barometer for the region’s overall economic vitality.

A girl riding a bike along the Fox River Trail in McHenry County with water and trees in the background

This policy update analyzes a recent U.S. Census data release on age composition and trends in population to understand their implications across the city of Chicago and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) seven counties. A subsequent policy update will analyze trends in the region’s racial and ethnic diversity.

The most recent data indicate that the CMAP region continues to lag behind its peer regions in population growth. The population decline first seen in 2015 persisted into 2016. An analysis of the region’s age demographics reveals an aging population and a loss in children and adults ages 35-49 years, a sign that families are leaving the region.