Stagnant international immigration slows population growth in the Chicago region

The Chicago region is experiencing demographic shifts that have led to recent small population declines, which hold significant implications for the future. Domestic migration, which long occurred both within the region as well as to and from other parts of the country, has now shifted to outmigration to other regions, from all parts of the Chicago region. In line with national trends, declining birth rates and an aging Baby Boomer generation are resulting in an older region, imposing new transportation and housing demands. Despite black population declines, the region will continue to grow increasingly diverse as its white population shifts from a majority to a plurality. Lower- and moderate-income residents are leaving the region, while metropolitan Chicago is adding higher income residents. 

Tents and stalls on either side with individuals strolling through.

This policy update analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual Population and Housing Unit Estimates program and American Community Survey Estimates. As prior CMAP analyses indicated, the Chicago metropolitan statistical area continues to experience long-term population stagnation as well as recent declines. The number of people leaving our region for other parts of the nation — a trend that slowed during the recession — has increased in recent years, returning to pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, international immigration to the Chicago region is stagnant and has not yet recovered to pre-recession rates. These international and domestic migration trends together contribute to a net migration loss for the region, driving recent population declines.