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Census data shows who is fleeing Illinoisans and why. Here’s why you should care.

Illinois lost more than 850,000 residents to other states during the past decade, causing the state’s population to shrink for six consecutive years and suffer the largest raw decline of any state in the 2010s.

Though many assume Illinois’ cold, wet winters and hot, humid summers are to blame, people are likelier to leave the state for better job or housing opportunities. The largest group leaving were prime working-age residents, which erodes the state’s future.

Being one of only four states seeing population losses during the past decade is a big problem. It makes Illinois poorer and less diverse. It also exposes the deeper problems of jobs and housing.

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