Down for the count: Sauk Valley joins Illinois in facing population loss

State saw largest population loss in nation across decade

Illinois lost more residents than any other state during the past decade, and 2019 census data shows a sixth straight year of population loss.

The state population dropped by 51,250 people in 2019, according to new estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, and has decreased about 159,700 people since 2010. Because of outmigration, it lost its spot in 2017 as the fifth-biggest state.

The population picture is much the same locally.

All counties in the Sauk Valley also have been in decline, with most seeing a steady drop in people for the past 2 decades.

Whiteside County showed the biggest loss since 2010, decreasing by 2,868 residents, or nearly 5 percent of the population, from 58,494 to 55,626.

Ogle County saw a drop of 2,574 people, Bureau County fell by 1,987, Lee County lost 1,808, and Carroll County decreased by 1,079 people, according to census data.

Dan Payette, executive director of the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, recently talked about population loss to different governing bodies in the area while presenting the 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the six-county region.

He told the Dixon City Council in December that the downward population trend is likely to continue, and communities need to work together and focus on marketing themselves as a region to promote more growth.

Illinoisans likely will begin to receive mailings in March for the 2020 census, a massive undertaking every 10 years to count the nation’s population.

Results from the 2020 census will affect the state in several ways, including deciding the number of congressional seats, redistricting political maps, and how much federal funding it will get.


Population loss from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019

Illinois – 12,831,572 to 12,671,821, -1.2%

Whiteside County – 58,494 to 55,626, -4.9%

Lee County – 36,031 to 34,223, -5%

Ogle County – 53,497 to 50,923, -4.8%

Bureau County – 34,980 to 32,993, -5.7%

Carroll County – 15,391 to 14,312, -7%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau