Black Flight in Chicago

Chicago has received the results of the 2010 census. The short version is that the city is the smallest it’s been in 90 years, the white population shrank a bit, the Hispanic population grew a bit, and the black population shrank by 17%:

Chicago lost a hefty 200,000 residents in the last decade, most of them African-Americans, while suburban counties grew dramatically in numbers and diversity, according to 2010 census data released Tuesday.

People continued to spread out far from the region’s urban hub, as thousands flocked to Will, Kane and McHenry counties, all of which experienced a second decade of vigorous double-digit growth, the numbers showed.

“I think these data from here and elsewhere in the country reflect that the United States has become a suburban nation,” said Scott W. Allard, a University of Chicago associate professor of social service administration. “It is a continuing migration from the city out to the suburbs while there are also immigration waves directly to the suburbs as well.”

In the 2000 census, Latino immigration fueled a modest 4 percent population increase in Chicago, marking the city’s first decade of growth since the 1940s.

This time around Chicago’s Latino population was up just a little more than 3 percent. The white population was down a bit, while black numbers dropped nearly 17 percent.

Latinos and Asians accounted for the metropolitan area’s biggest population increases during the 2000s. In both cases, the biggest gains for those groups were in collar counties, not in the city or suburban Cook County.

“The biggest (change) is finding more minority people in different places in the metropolitan area where you didn’t used to find them,” said Jim Lewis, a demographer and senior program officer at Chicago Community Trust. “That and the loss of black population in the region and the state.”

Don’t underestimate the importance of the loss of black voters to Chicago or, potentially, to federal elections. Chicago is now nearly evenly divided among whites, blacks, and Hispanics. IMO the level of racial politics here will be heightened if anything.

The populations of a number of rural counties in Illinois also declined while the total population of the state increased bit. Not enough to keep Illinois from losing one seat in the U. S. Congress, bringing its congressional delegation to 18.

Now the real fun begins! Handicapping the redistricting is going to be interesting. I’m guessing that one or more seats will be lost downstate while it’s at least possible that the collar counties will pick up a seat. The massively gerrymandered 17th and 19th Congressional Districts could certainly use some help.

4 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    It’s not just Chicago, the national picture is one of African-Americans “returning” South, which is interesting.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I predict Illinois eliminates the 17th, breaks up downstate pretty evenly, then focusses on gerrymandering Democratic seats btw/ Chicago and the Collar counties.

    Haven’t seen overall numbers, but I think downstate rural probably lost a lot, but it was compensated by gains in the mid-cities with a white collar job base, like Bloomington, Champaign, and Springfield. Alton probably also gained at St. Louis’ expense.

  • It’s not just Chicago, the national picture is one of African-Americans “returning” South, which is interesting.

    If that proves to be the case, it suggests to me that a lot of states might get a lot purpler. Blue states getting redder; red states getting bluer.

  • BTW, I can’t help but wonder if the great battle in redistricting Illinois won’t be Republican vs. Democrat but a controversy over Hispanic representation. That’s complicated by a large proportion of people who aren’t eligible to vote (but who count in the census) and don’t turn out when they’re registered.

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