Last week the Census Bureau put out its annual population estimates for counties and metro areas. Chicago metro and Cook County lost population, albeit a small amount. And the Illinois Supreme Court, in a widely expected move, struck down a pension deal Rahm Emanuel had cut with 18 city unions.
I have a quick hit report on this at City Journal titled “Honey, I Shrunk Chicago“:
Apart from a booming high-end sector concentrated in the Chicago Loop and select suburban locales, Illinois is much like the other Rust Belt states—they aren’t performing well demographically either, so it’s no surprise that Illinois is struggling. But Illinois and Chicago bear a bigger burden than their neighbors in the form of a long history of poor governance and mismanaged finances. Now, the Illinois Supreme Court has made fixing the pension problem—one of the affected funds will run out of money within ten to 15 years—nearly impossible without dramatically higher taxes. A city worker who shows up for just one day of work is entitled permanently to receive the benefits of the current regime, including future compounded increases.
I was also on a segment on WILL radio from the University of Illinois talking about the Census results. A point I make both in the article and the radio show is that neighboring states also have poor demographics. Illinois’ delta versus Indiana and Michigan in terms of population is not that high. Illinois also does not have an especially high outmigration rate, according to IRS data. It’s overall stagnant, ranking in the bottom ten for both out and in migration rates.