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Latest census shows shrinking Chicago, growing collar counties

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Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Chicago’s population plunged by 200,418 people — a 6.9 percent decline from 2000, according to the official census count released Tuesday.

The drop was significantly more than indicated by previously released census estimates, and over the next decade it could cost the city hundreds of millions in federal funds, which are partly distributed on the basis of population counts.

The loss reverses gains made in the 1990s when Chicago’s population grew by 4 percent, the first increase then in 50 years.

Chicago’s black population fell the most, nearly 17 percent. Today, blacks make up only 33 percent of the city’s population, down from 36 percent 10 years ago.

One likely cause is the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, in which thousands of inner-city public housing units were demolished.

Also, a Sun-Times analysis of previously released tract level census estimates showed a trend of black population growth particularly in the south suburbs.

“I think there may well be a loss of middle-class blacks down into those south suburbs,” said Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Hispanic population grew 3.3 percent in the city. But since this is less than the birthrate it is likely that Hispanics also are leaving the city for the suburbs.

Non-Hispanic whites are now 32 percent of the population, while Hispanics of all races make up 29 percent

Population also fell in Cook County — an 182,000 drop. However, the population of suburban Cook grew slightly by 18,000, indicating Chicago’s drop was the major factor in the county’s loss of population.

All collar counties saw population gains, which ranged from 1.4 percent in DuPage County to 110 percent in Kendall County.

“This underscores the fact that the growth of the Chicago metropolitan area is now concentrated in the outer suburbs,” said Johnson.

Similar patterns are happening in other large urban areas in the Midwest and Northeast.

Despite the recession, the numbers show population growth exploded in some cities in the collar counties, with Huntley in Kane County growing by a whopping 324 percent.

Plainfield, the largest of the high-growth towns, continued its tear, with its population increasing 204 percent to nearly 40,000.

Most of the towns with the greatest population percentage drops were in suburban Cook County, and included Ford Heights, Robbins, Harvey, Bensenville, Forest Park and Dolton.

Aurora, meanwhile, became the state’s second largest city, snatching the spot from Rockford. Aurora gained nearly 55,000 people, growing by 38 percent. Rockford grew nearly 2 percent.

Joliet jumped to fourth place with a 39 percent gain to 41,000 people, eclipsing Naperville, which grew nearly 11 percent, gaining 13,495 people.

The former boom town of the 1960s and 1970s, Schaumburg, lost nearly 1,200 people, dropping in population by 1.5 percent.

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