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Lack of consensus at statehouse on how to reverse Illinois population loss

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Lack of consensus at statehouse on how to reverse Illinois population loss

Lawmakers have yet to form any consensus on how to address the state’s continuing population decline, even as a new study found the Land of Lincoln was one of only two states in the nation that lost population over the past decade.

The United States is growing, but a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study found that only Illinois and West Virginia reported population declines.

The report showed Illinois was slowly growing until five years ago, when the number of people moving out of the state surpassed the number of people moving in and the number of babies being born. Since 2008, Illinois’ population has fallen by 6,000.

State lawmakers have ideas on how to address the issue, but there’s no united front.

State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said there are all kinds of reasons people leave the state.

“A lot of people are retiring to warmer climates,” Moylan said. “When you retire you want to go a warmer climate.”

Despite the city of Chicago having multiple years of consecutive population decline, Moylan said the Windy City is attracting new people.

“Chicago has the second most cranes, new buildings going up other than Seattle,” Moylan said. “All kinds of people are moving into Illinois because of opportunities, for jobs and to grow.”

He said for the rest of the state, it’s up to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his new team to visit and work with rural residents and leaders.

“And he has,” Moylan said. “Talk to stakeholders in those communities and see what they need so that he can provide them with the proper means to make their communities grow.”